I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:~12-14 (context)
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to jump in.
Colleen, my brilliant younger sister, just landed a chemistry internship for the summer that pays $20 an hour.
I get paid $20 an hour, too. I’m not in an internship. In fact, I’ve held this job just about two years now. I have neither the prospect of a significant bonus or raise (this year I received a staggering $1/hr raise, up from last year’s measly $0.25/hr raise), nor the possibility of promotion, thanks to a small oversight in our department that has left us for the last three years without job descriptions. Nobody’s been promoted, even those who richly deserve it.
So Colleen and I now both earn the same hourly wage, and that stinks. Not for her—I’m glad she got a sweet deal. It stinks for me, because it just reminds me that I have a pretty rotten deal. The American Medical Writers Association published results from their 2007 salary survey* that reinforces this depressing realization. The survey showed that people writing in my particular field (preclinical contract organizations) with my particular years of experience (<2), on average earned a median salary of—get this—$20,000 more than I do. The low end of that scale, the 25th percentile, still earned $5,000 more than I do.
Like I said. Pretty rotten deal.
HOWEVER! Not all is rotten in the state of Denmark. After several months of domino-effect nagging, I finally prodded my boss into prodding Security into assigning me my very own bike room. They called it Katie’s Room on the paperwork because it had no number. How many people get a room named after them?? I get all excited every time I think about having my very own room, just for my bike and bike stuff, at work. It’s in the abandoned East Wing, a very brisk 2.5-minute walk from my cubicle, the floor is covered in an inch of dust, a bit of construction-related detritus still litters the floor, but it’s mine. It has a lock on it and I alone have a key. Finally I can trust that nobody will tamper with my bike; I can leave it unattended without worrying at all.
This is the benefit of having such a gigantic building that fully half of it still stands empty and unremodeled: My bike now occupies what clearly was somebody’s office in a previous building incarnation. Charles River bought this building from Intel and totally revamped the West Wing, where I work; it’s got shiny new everything over there. But in the East Wing, signs still point to the Intel lobby, the gym (no fair! They got a gym!), computer labs, and vast empty rooms now full of construction debris attest to where cube farms used to grow. Construction work continues, so you’re liable to walk by piles of boards, cables, tubing, or wallboard. Walls have scribbled writing on them. Near my bike room, the floor is literally dug up in a two-foot by two-foot square, and bare dirt occupies that space. You get the sense that you could walk for many minutes, possibly hours, through dimly-lit rooms and hallways without seeing a living soul.
It’s kind of surreal in a way, walking around in what feels like an abandoned building. That whole wing is so huge, it reminds me of the puzzle game in Encarta that I played as a kid, the one that never ends. You just keep expanding the map, but there’s no winning and no finishing, just more puzzles. I’m going to explore the East Wing some time—when I remember to bring a sturdy flashlight and possibly some pepper spray in case of hobos.
* Non-AMWA members have to pay money to see the official results, so the link leads to a medical writer’s blog that reports on the findings.
Please help me raise money for the MS Bike Tour Cape Cod Getaway. Donate today on my MS Participant page.