I don’t often talk about my job here out of respect for my institution, my co-workers and my clients. But in addition to my health having a big impact on my quality of work, my job has a huge impact on my health as well. Customer service, at best, is very rewarding. There is a profound satisfaction in helping someone resolve an issue. In a field where most of our product is in pixels, you have to take those satisfactions where you can. However, people don’t contact us because something is going right, and often hundreds of students are potentially impacted by a particular problem, so there is a great deal of urgency to resolve problems quickly. This is stressful for instructors since students place the blame on the teacher rather than the software, on students since it impacts their grade, and on us since we are often the go-between for advanced support and have little control over resolution of larger issues.
To say that this frequently leads to a less-than-peaceful frame of mind would be a gross understatement.
Honestly, it wouldn’t be such an issue if I didn’t care. I try very hard to leave work at work, but I’m not always able to do so. I want others to succeed. As an instructor, I sympathise with the quandary of using advanced technology to teach distance students. As a student, I sympathise with the pressure to perform well when technology is often finicky at best. And I sympathise with the institution, trying to offer the best support for the most users overall among conflicting needs and priorities. I frequently act as a translator, speaking for each of these groups to the others in a language they will understand, and you know what they say about a compromise: no one is happy.
All of this just becomes more of struggle when I am exhausted or in pain (or both, like today). Sitting in front of a computer isn’t physically taxing, but my days tend to be a series of emotional hurdles. At the end of the day I often just want to slump into bed and stay there, but there is physical therapy to get through, necessary errands, house work to attempt, and, oh yeah, I need to eat meals occasionally. Hubby has stepped up with errands and housework, and we take turns with meals which is a huge relief. I just wish that I had more energy- when I pass out at 9 pm I’m not much fun, especially on weekends.
This weekend will be fun- a friend of ours will be in town and is staying with us in-between her various adventures. It will be great to catch up (and probably make some blueberry waffles- yum!). I wish that I could participate in more gadding about, but I suspect I will be as low-key as a hostess can get for the most part. It’s always a trade-off.