Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Working Late

Last guy out. That's often been me at the end of the day at several of the jobs I've held.  The one still milling about, sometimes under the toxic bath of fluorescent lights while his co-workers were already long at home having dinner, watching the news, chasing their children, having sex, whatever. Many find this demoralizing, depressing. Many nights, I am invigorated, inspired even.

I realized early on that I am most productive when I work solo. Not only without someone attached at my hip but also in a big empty space, free of other bodies that distract in ways that may be favorable or otherwise. I love having the room to conduct my business in my own style, at my own pace. I can turn off the overheads and crank Michael Hedges or Jeff Beck solos to my heart's content. I once told a friend who was a corporate honcho that I would rather stay later and do everything myself than have assistance. Of course, I was shot back a puzzled expression. My reasoning is mainly because if I do it, I know it's done correctly.  But it's more than that. Yes, I like doing things my own way. If I want to take an extended break, then suddenly be ultra productive in a short space of time, for example. I always worked this way in school, which is why I always dreaded group projects. I guess I don't "play well with others."

True, aside from very early in life I've never been part of a formal sports organization, where one learns teamwork. Never been in the military. You might read this and think I am underdeveloped in some vital way, a sociopath, maybe. But I've observed the work I've done alone versus the fruits of collaboration and the results speak for themselves.

Yes, I realize there are projects that require several in tandem to pull them off. I've happily served on teams to feed the hungry and help the elderly. There have been some jobs where the efforts of one would've obviously been inadequate. But in most of my paying gigs I have found What Works.

But also, there is something about being alone in an office at night that is appealing, something I can't put my finger on. Things are quiet, peaceful. No one is running around with their hair on fire. There's no crappy Flavor of the Month music. No gossip. I can write reports and return messages without the inevitable interruptions that are seemingly endless in the 9-5. Some days, the sound of my own name warms the back of my neck.

It does get eerie sometimes. One hears odd sounds. Did a shadow just pass behind me? Common when you're home alone. But even the minuses are pluses for me. It's my domain. I think on the countless people and exchanges and events that have occurred in those very halls over the years. Like ghosts. It's a little sad; there are some folks I really miss. But it's also so intriguing. To think all that came before, right where you stand. What will happen here in 10 years?

It goes beyond the office. I've always been attracted to desolate areas. I love to gaze through the windows of closed stores. Minimal lighting, nothing stirring. I've walked through empty gymnasiums after a night class and felt the near tangible loneliness. Strangely appealing. To think of the light and noise that fills the space on game night, or during a practice. Then hours later, as if no one was ever there. I like the stillness. Maybe I prefer it.

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