Escaping the Rat Race

by Matt Savage

“A rat race is a term used for an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit.”

I’m walking down the hallway. The flicker of florescent lights is burning my bloodshot eyes. It’s around 9:45 AM. I’m well over an hour late for work. I swing open the door and enter the main office. Our secretary looks up and gives me a smirk as she shakes her head from side to side.

I pour myself a big cup of water from the bubbler before entering my office. I begin re- hydrating my body when my supervisor, Bob, walks in.

“Late night?” he asks

“Yep”

“It’s almost 10 o’clock, you know?”

“Yep”

“Ummm, so can we try not to make this a habit?”

I let out a deep sigh. The truth is, I’ve been coming in late for the last several months. I always leave early and I often take extended lunch and coffee breaks. In a given day, I probably only do a solid 2 to 3 hours of actual office work.

“Is there anything that you need done right now?” I ask, avoiding his question

“Uhh, no, but…”

“Ok good, just let me know and we’ll take care of it right away” I say politely

“Uh, oh…uh, ok then” he says and exits the office

A year ago, this situation would have made me a nervous wreck. I would have woken up late, in a panic, call the office to say ‘I’m on my way’ and then apologize profusely when arriving, usually with some lame excuse like ‘I forgot to set my alarm clock’. Kind of pathetic really and not the type of work stress that anyone should have to worry about.

My attitude now is to focus on getting the job done and then do whatever I want. I stopped asking permission for days off. Instead I just tell my boss when I won’t be in. I don’t apologize for being late. I don’t worry about taking a 1.5 hour lunch break. I don’t care that I’m hungover from celebrating the Celtics win last night. My work gets completed and everyones happy.

It’s still not an ideal situation, but it’s better than most peoples’ and as close to a Results Only Work Environment that I’ll get. But the real victory will be when I walk into Bob’s office and hand him a two week notice.

So, I think the moral of this story is not to focus on winning or losing the rat race, but focus on escaping the rat race all together.

{ 15 comments }

Cali & Jody June 14, 2008 at 12:04 am

Matt,

ROWE rocks – and so do you.

You’ve got everything in perspective – it’s not about the time, it’s about the results.

Your boss flung Sludge at you and you asked the simple question, “Is there something I can do for you?” You eradicated the Sludge in that moment and brought the conversation right back to results. And it worked.

We’re glad to have you in our corner – continue focusing on results, eradicating Sludge, and spreading the word about ROWE!

Cali & Jody
Creators of the Results-Only Work Environment

Collin June 14, 2008 at 10:26 am

Matt:

I used to be in the same boat. Living in Vegas, it’s tough to not get caught in working for casinos..ehem, prisons.

I did three months, after which time, I gave a 1 day notice.

There are 1000 people lined up to take your BS job, they deserve it more than you. Give em the chance – pursue something worth living for.

Roosh June 14, 2008 at 8:06 pm

Eerie… i could have written this

Matt Savage June 16, 2008 at 9:55 am

Cali & Jody,
Thanks for stopping by. I haven’t read your book yet but it’s on my list and I love the concept of ROWE and hope that it will eventually be adopted by many of the country’s businesses. It just makes sense.
Collin,
I’m not familiar with the casino working environment but it sounds terrible. I think sometimes when someone hates a job so much, that it is essential to just quit. It seems a lot of people will simply stay in job, no matter what, because they feel they have no other options.
Roosh,
Haha, well, I guess great minds think alike:)

crave June 18, 2008 at 7:36 am

love it!

this is what i need, and its something i’m going to add in to my journey to social supremacy!

keep it up!

Burton 'Snake Eyez' June 19, 2008 at 10:45 am

Most of the times I have had ‘real’ jobs my bosses really didn’t care about what time I came in or what time I left. Since I work in the software industry most of my work is deadline based. So no one really cares if you work 30 hr weeks or 80 hr weeks. What really matters is if you completed your task and does it work. I am kind of gifted in the fact that I can get things done quickly and correctly so at times I have been able to go after other pursuits.

Even as a WBAFC I was able to go out to clubs or raves back in the day come in wearing whatever the hell I wanted and no one gave a damn. When I called in to tell them that I was taking a day off or left work because I wasn’t feeling well no one bothered me. Then again the flip side of the coin was that if I needed to fix, modify or create an application or applet and they needed it on time I would sometimes work 72 hours straight (with naps of course) and beat the deadline like a red headed stepchild.

From my experience being a supervisor and knowing good supervisors manyof the rules that people come up with for work aren’t necessarily for the people that are functional or exceptional. Most of the rules that people come up with for work were made for mediocre and incompetent workers. Unfortunately bosses are forced to enforce rules in a blanket manner less they face discrimination suits.

Hot Alpha Female June 20, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Escaping the rat race all together. I say amen to that!

Lol. It looked like your boss was actually a little nervous and didnt know what to do with himself since you were so assertive.

I think our work should be results based, rather than paid on time, because that way we are actually going to get off our butts and do something!

Hot Alpha Female

BigSend June 21, 2008 at 3:24 pm

This post inspired me. I am starting my internship on the 30th, but I am so into blogging and online possibilities that I am already in the “arrive 1 hour late and leave 1 hour early mode”

I really hope there is a shit ton of downtime and I can just surf the web all day.

-BigSend
http://bigsendworld.com

Jim June 22, 2008 at 11:22 am

It kinda struck me, while I was reading this post, that your message doesn’t seem to be about escaping the rat race, more learning to live with it. Don’t get me wrong, I totally know what you’re saying – I think it’s a dilemma that almost all middle/working class people have to learn to deal with, although obviously people go about dealing with it in different ways.

I’m under the impression that to “escape” the rat race you have to be
a) retired,
b) doing little/no work via passive income, extremely high pay or low cost living, or
c) doing something you love so much, it effectively no longer classifies as work.

Most people escape the rat race by a), which generally means they’re running the hamster wheel for most of their lives, and only get to truly “enjoy” the last 10-20 years or so. That’s not an approach I would personally call ideal, or even acceptable.

Obviously b) and c) are much more appealing, and personally I would like to get to b) via c). However, what you seem to be suggesting is some variation on a) and c) where you learn to deal with and minimise a job to a tolerable level, presumably until you get to retirement. I reckon this is far better than hating your work all through your life and doing lots of it, but I don’t think it’s far off what many people try to do. I don’t doubt you have plans outside what was mentioned, and your post definitely speaks to me along the right lines, but I was honestly expecting something a bit more radical and “out of the box”.

Matt Savage June 23, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Crave,
Glad you liked it and hope it works out for you!
Burton,
Some good points and I think your right that these artificial schedules are created to keep the rest of the productive, ie, making sure people are getting work done. However, I never understood why a supervisor just wouldn’t fire someone who is not producing results anyways…regardless of time requirements. I’d much rather have 5 employees that work a couple hours a day and get all their work done than 10 employees that work 40 hour weeks but can’t meet their deadlines. From a supervisor’s perspective, it’s simply a matter of trimming the fat.
Hot Alpha Female,
Ah yes, amen to results! Isn’t that what our whole economy is based on, producing results, so it only makes sense to work in a way where results over time is emphasized.
BigSend,
Haha, it’s funny because you already assuming that you are going to have down time, in which you will fill by surfing the web. The thing is that most people in office jobs spend A LOT of time surfing the web. It’s simply a side effect of this silly time requirement that we need to work on set schedule for a set number of hours. Ridiculous really.
Jim,
You’re right, I didn’t really title my post properly as it wasn’t about escaping the rat race but minimizing the effects that the rat race has on ones lifestyle. Oooopps:)
Regardless, I still think it’s a worthwhile endeavor for people to attempt a change in their work environment that best suits their needs.
As far as something more radical and out of the box, just wait, I do in fact have several plans up my sleeve in which will allow me to truly escape from the rat race altogether;)

The Saint June 24, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Savage,

Your blog is typically full of highly insightful posts and I commend you for working to improve yourself and your life.

Yes, work sucks. But it’s a job and many people are unemployed right now. The econony sucks and gas is over $4 a gallon.

You better shape up or you will find yourself standing in the umemployment line too.

The best time to be looking for a job is when you already have a job. If you got canned from your current job for showing up late and not doing any work, how would you explain that to a perspective employer??

Keep your nose to the grindstone and the world will be your oyster. You spent a lot of time improving yourself and working to sarge women. Why not put as much energy into finding a new job?

Once you have found your true calling in life, all the rest will fall into place.

Cheers,
The Saint

Ian Romaine June 26, 2008 at 10:29 am

Couldn’t agree more about escaping the rat race — I’ve been self-employed for all but the first year of my career and I couldn’t stand the thought of going back to the daily grind.

Now it’s a case of getting done what needs doing and spending the rest of the time doing whatever you please. And somehow it doesn’t feel as bad when you have got a pile of BS to plough through when you know it’s ultimately for *your* benefit rather than anonymous shareholders and your boss’s annual bonus.

Burton 'Snake Eyez' June 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm

I have been thinking about your blog for a couple of days since I last time I posted. Have you though about doing something else? One of the great the phenomenas that I have seen occur with many pua is a change of career. Many of them end (if only temporarily) the career that they did but didn’t like to try their hand at more fulfilling endeavors. Maybe you should reevaluate your skills, abilities and desires.

I remember about a month or two ago waiting outside of the office building watching people scurry off to work. It was one of those days that I just had to get to work insanely early in order to beat traffic. As I watched the people scurry off to work I wondered if it was all really worth it? It really made me think.

PJ June 29, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Interesting post. I like the idea of a Results Only Work Environment , but as I work on a reception I have to be there at a set time. However, when I’m at work I often find myself surreptitiously surfing the net, and sometimes I feel guilty about that, but I get my work done anyway and I’m on duty so if anyone asks me for help or calls our number I’ll help them.

On the whole though, I find that people don’t care what you do as long as you’re there at the right time and the work gets done.

That said, I hate my job and long for the day that I can give in my notice and do something more fulfilling.

The Beautiful Kind August 22, 2008 at 4:29 am

Have you ever been to the zoo and watched the animals pace and tic in their enclosures, driven mad by the lack of stimulation and from being trapped?

Funny how we impose that same sentence on ourselves. Cubicles are zoo enclosures for people.

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