Knabb: Wake-up call for life in ‘real world’

Justin Runquist

Ah yes. You gotta love it when the alarm clock blares into your ears each morning.

The sound is even more deafening and urgent once you leave college and have a job. By that point, it’s like a trumpet that summons us to a moment of truth each day: a choice between two simple options.

Do I want to turn over and keep sleeping today? Or do I want to spin to the other side, leap up from my sheets and go do something extraordinary?

If the majority of people at my office mentioned they jumped up from their beds each morning, ready to seize the day, I’d have to say they’re telling big, fat lies.

Sometimes I sit at my cubicle, wondering where the pizzazz is. People don’t smile or say hello when they pass my desk. Many walk everywhere with their heads down. Co-workers hand out compliments and praise very rarely. And the awkward silence in elevators? If I didn’t offer a nervous “Hi, how are ya?” I’d experience that at least six times each day.

Granted, work may be a drag some days. Plus, an intern like me won’t earn anyone brownie-points. But hey, if we’re going to show up, let’s make it fun. Even if our only employment calling might be sanitary engineering or street sweeping, let’s make it exciting. Let’s pursue a dream; not the money. Let’s try not to actually become our jobs (because if we actually were sanitary engineers, more than our jobs would stink).

I am no cynic. So, for months, I assumed my floor was just having the longest bad-day-at-work in history.

Then I did some research. Only 47.2 percent of workers – ages 35 to 44 – are happy with their jobs today, according to The Conference Board, a New York City-based non-profit organization that runs studies on U.S. workplaces. Most of this dissatisfaction was attributed to salary issues, but only 58 percent claimed to maintain interest at work.

One area for improvement might be making special occasions something worth rejoicing about. For example, my department recently “celebrated” a manager’s five-year anniversary with the company – a pretty big milestone. We didn’t act out a funny parody or anything. But we did throw around some business trivia and asked him to recite our stock price the day he started.

I don’t know why work so often seems like … well, work. There is an urgent problem here. If anniversary parties don’t stray from serious, then we’re in trouble.

We can make a difference. In fact, we have to make a difference.

Someday soon, we may find ourselves in offices that are dreary and reminiscent of a bomb shelter from the 60s. While we may not manage the company assets, we can at least wear Hawaiian shirts to work. Some of us may work for monster companies employing 100,000 people. While we may be small players in a game we can’t control, we can strive to show up each day with eyes wrapped around our heads, constantly searching for good opportunities.

When we hear gossip circulate across our department, we can start spreading praise. When we see others politicking for promotions, we can let our performance speak for itself. When someone appears down, we can fire off some compliments.

Your co-workers may have the never-ending “case of the Mondays,” but at least you can offer them two suggestions: either buy a new alarm clock or start studying sanitary engineering.