Odd jobs – #3

In a previous blog I told you about my job at a car dealership after which I travelled to Ecuador for a couple of months to recharge my battery and re-calibrate my compass. I came back to Holland with a smile on my face but very little money in my pocket. That was OK for a while but after a month or two it started to get worrying… For a second I thought my colleagues had been right when they called me crazy for quitting my job in economically trying times.

BelastingdienstI pressed on, wrote and called, smiled and presented myself the best I could and finally got a job at our government’s most unpopular institution: de Belastingdienst , aka the tax office. My mother was very pleased to hear I had landed a government job and was convinced I was finally set for life.

From the moment I set foot in that office all the rebellious fibres of my personality acted up. We were treated like unruly children in my opinion, which in turn made me want to behave like one.

I was required to sign in and out by writing my name on a form on our supervisor’s desk every day. The fact that we also had a keycard to enter the building and they therefore already knew when we arrived and left, was irrelevant. The one time I arrived on time, forgot to sign the paper but went straight to work (usually before everyone else had finished their coffee corner chats), I was registered as being too late. This drove me nuts. Especially after the train was delayed later that week and I received an official warning for being late so often. After the third time the employment agency would be informed and my chances of getting my contract renewed would be slim.

It was all so puzzling to me. I remember this one time I was working on a tax return request and wanted to finish it before I went home. The working hours were from 8AM to 4:30PM and when I hadn’t joined the queue at the exit by 4:32 my supervisor came over and said this behavior was not appreciated because now he had to stay longer too… O.o It felt like I had travelled to another country and had not yet learned the language and customs.

I had never felt such reluctance to go to work in the mornings and you can imagine the relief I felt when I had found (and was accepted for) a job elsewhere. All though the list of negatives goes on and on, I will try to make a list of things that I learned from the 3 months I spent here.

  • Humor is an awesome coping mechanism, but it is important for me to keep checking myself and step on the break when my jokes become too sarcastic/cynical as it may be perceived as bullying by some.
  • More boundaries do not necessarily create more discipline.
  • Some big institutions “don’t even know on the front side that they’re alive on the back side”, as we say in Dutch.
  • I do not do well in an environment where “why” is a dirty word.
  • Your parents don’t always know what’s good for you.
  • When the annoyances from work seep into your out-of-office time, it is time to grab a parachute and jump.

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