21 January, 2021

The Best Job I Ever Had

In my last months of freedom I was living in Kansas City, doing medical claims repricing in an office on Ward Parkway. Medical claims repricing sounds complicated to a lot of people, maybe even slightly impressive. It shouldn't; it's glorified data entry, is all. Very tedious. But my ten-key skills were top-notch, honed by thousands of hours of online gaming and chat, so the job paid my bills. It even permitted me to set part of each paycheck aside.

Computer skills didn't notably enhance employment opportunities for a high-school dropout in Missouri, back in the '90s. So between ages seventeen and twenty-two, I worked a whole series of unrelated jobs: copy writer, toy-store warehouse drudge, restaurant host, tech support representative, photocopy monkey, telemarketer, convenience store attendant, video-rental clerk, retail sales manager, record-store guru, and a few I can't even remember. The best was managing the front office of a neighborhood hotel.

I collected some good stories in the year and a half I manned that front desk. A post about one memorable shift at the hotel showed up here in 2012.) That was a great year and a half, both in my personal life and my professional one. My arrest followed soon after. You'd think I'd never work a decent job again. I sure thought that.

At Crossroads Correctional Center I once quit a good position in the food-service warehouse, which I held for a year and a half, because I didn't want my longest-ever employment to be a prison job. That was my ego talking. I was still clinging to stubborn, ultimately meaningless principles then. The job was fine; it was I who had the problem.

My mother asked last week about my work. We talked a little about my hours and the recent discovery that, if I held my current job on the outside, I'd be making a salary at least in the high five figures, and it'd be several orders of magnitude easier because I'd have more resources at my disposal. (We can't even google shit.) Then I told her the bizarre truth: "Things are great. I'm excited to go in to work every day. It sounds weird to say, but this is actually the best job I've ever had."

I've blogged a few times about my position in ERDCC's media center – first when I landed the ideal prison job for a geek like me, then about the thrill of unboxing a new computer, and then how my horizons recently broadened to include video production. Even if you read these posts, you still have only the vaguest idea of what my work actually entails. I've considered doing a timeline post of my average day at work (similar to the one I did in "Anatomy of a Bad Day," eight years ago, except with a more positive spin). The biggest problem with that is, I don't have an average day. We do new, totally different stuff all the time. This job's unpredictability aggravates and delights me in equal measure.

But here's the thing: those words. "The best job I've ever had" wasn't hyperbole, wasn't my ignorance, wasn't me just saying shit to put Mum at ease about her son's circumstances. The sentiment was genuine. Never mind the rest, the dreary, tragic overarching circumstances of my life; I consider myself so fortunate to have the position that I do, to be able to do something for the community, which happens to bring me joy in the process. Regardless of their surroundings, how many people in the world are able to say that?

1 comment:

  1. I hope someday I get to be as excited about my job as you are :)


Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.