"I'm sorry to call you so late..." He trailed off. He was waiting for my response, my polite "Oh, that's okay" or "No big deal". I could hear him breathing on the other end of the line, waiting for my assurance that him calling on my cell phone for the seventh time today (3rd time outside of business hours - the first call came at 6:50 this morning) was quite alright and perfectly acceptable.
I said nothing. I waited for him to continue with the reason for his call, and when he didn't, I asked (in my "I hate you but I'm going to be very nice to you because you're my customer but if I could punch you in the dick right now, I would" voice), "How can I help you?"
He didn't need much. The call ended within moments. That's not the point.
I hate my cell phone. HATE. Loathe. Carrying this torture device is a requirement of my job, and so is sleeping with the fucker. Thanks to my first harrowing six months in this position, I have physical reaction to the sound of my ringtone - my heart rate jumps as my stomach falls with that sickening "I'm in trouble/something bad just happened" feeling (you know the one I mean, right?). I feel put out and put upon and bothered and annoyed by the fact of someone demanding my attention for work-related matters when I'm supposed to be on my own time.
My boss says "When you are in a position such as ours, you're never completely 'off'" with a little grin and a chuckle, as he calls me on weekends or during vacations. I laugh and say "I know" in my "I hate you but I'm going to be very nice to you because you're my boss but if I could punch you in the dick right now, I would" voice.
A friend told me this weekend of a job opening with a national employer - similar pay, different perks, a mega-shit-ton less stress. They swear I'd be a shoo-in. No more phone calls at 3 a.m.? An opportunity to take a vacation without fear of crying non-stop for two weeks after while I try to catch up? Free booze and cab fare? (One of the 'different' perks) Of course I considered it.
But I've been here for 4 years - thanks to the moving I did in my 20s, that's a personal best. And I've got security that's unheard of in today's economy. And if I want to double my salary in the next 5 years, I can make it happen. And I get a big fat bonus each year. And my boss loves me. And I can take my dog to work. And I can wear jeans every day. And I can say "fuck" a lot.
And if I'm honest with myself, a lot of the stress that comes from my job could be remedied with longer hours spent at the office. If I spent more time now, getting things in better order and more organized and with better processes and procedures, a lot of the awfulness could be alleviated for the long term. That's probably what I need to do, right?
I've gone in early the last two days. I'll do it the next two days, too. I'm going to beat this - I'm going to make this job my bitch. Meanwhile, I guess a few before- and after-hours phone calls aren't such a bad trade-off for everything I'm getting in return.
But that doesn't mean I won't continue to perfect my various work-safe ways to say "fuck off".