This is a brief work of fiction by Dan Morris, about career stagnation.
Lunch time on Tuesdays always set Alison's teeth on edge. While she'd typically spend Monday gathering every ounce of optimism and exuberance to approach another week of career momentum, by 11:45 on Tuesday her gestalt was saturated with pragmatic poison. Every week, as it turned out by day 1.5, was bound for simmering rage. Today's liverwurst-and-cold-processed-cheese-food sandwich only contributed to the effect.
This is not, she brooded as her teeth pulled at stone-ground wheat, what I was told to expect. Briefly, her mind wandered to a faculty advisor at the Buford L. Truvestaedt School of Commerce and Efficiency. "Management Information systems, my dear, is the degree of the future!" Dr. Alvors had said to her, with a tiny wisp of spittle landing on the left lens of Alison's glasses. "Trust me, young lady! MIS will put you in high demand, and in positions of great autonomy!"
That was seven years, an internship, and two and three-quarters jobs ago, and prior to unwrapping today's sandwich, the most advanced project Alison had worked on professionally was developing post-event web surveys for a series of webinars. Frequently, coworkers and supervisors would refer people to her as, "our tech person" who could help them with their "spreadsheets and weblications." It often seemed that she spent more time serving as tech support than actually doing her job. In fact, occasionally she'd peruse tech support and help desk job listings, just to see how those job descriptions compared to her own.
Invariably, this illuminated a problem: she no longer had any concrete idea of what was contained in her job description. For the past three years, she received only cursory reviews from managers only vaguely familiar with her personally, and completely unfamiliar with her role within the company. Anymore, Alison just didn't ask questions.
Perhaps, she would sometimes think, it was her own resignation and sense of futility that caused her professional stagnation. Perhaps she should be more assertive, and develop her own goals and projects to improve her working conditions. And perhaps, she'd then think, I'll walk into the office tomorrow, sprout wings and pee rainbows, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass will follow me around playing Lollipops and Roses.
Alison swallowed her liverwurst, took a sip of diet soda, and proceeded to play three straight hours of You Don't Know Jack on Facebook.