Analytical chemistry. 21 years of pushing a button, reading a number, writing down that number and/or entering that number into a spreadsheet, printing the spreadsheet, uploading the data from the spreadsheet, and repeating the process. Hundreds of times a day. Have you ever seen "About Schmidt?" All of his careers work is in cardboard boxes, and when he returns within the month to visit, he finds all of the boxes next to the dumpster. Todd Rundgren's "Hamburger Hell." That's it. The very best attitude towards a job is an honest one. A top salesman of highly expensive scientific manufacturing equipment was once asked how he was so good at his job. He replied "I sell shoes."
As far as coworkers. One may think the people who work in a laboratory are all intelligent. I sometimes feel that after woking my present job, that I could honestly add "drug addiction counsellor" to my job resume. I was in a Waffle House one day for lunch and heard a more intellectually stimulating discussion between the employees than I have ever heard in a laboratory. I told a kid in a restaurant once, after breaking up a fight between two teenage girls that the same thing happens between scientists with advanced degrees. Hell, even astronauts...
So, last year I contracted brucellosis. I was sick for two months. Stayed home, used up all of my own vacation time and sick time. Payed for all the treatment out of my own pocket. Filled for workman's compensation. The fight continues. YET!... A coollection of donated sick time was collected by the lab for the benefit of a coworker who was beatup and put in the hospital while buying crack. I've been there eight years, I've called in sick a few times. Most of my sick time in that entire period was taken to take care of my wife or my mother in law when they got sick. But "I'm the bad guy". The sample in question that eventhough I cannot prove that it contained the brucellosis due to the manager having all the samples dupmed when OSHA showed up is still being analyzed by the lab, once a month, for a grand total income of $125. That's the price tag they put on my health, my life.
While sick I started looking for jobs, of course. 54 years old, do you think that's easy? I have a degree in Nutrition that I have never really used in any remote potential. I got the jobs in chemistry labs die to my minor in chemistry. I have many years experience in restaurants, but from 20 years ago. While I was sick, I found out about a thing called a Certified Dietary Manager. Take the classes, take the test (at $395 a pop), get the license. Since I had a degree in Nutrition, I didn't have to take any classes, I could just study on my own to take the test, albiet I have not taken a "test" since 1991. I got a couple of books from Amazon with sample tst questions, used that in combination with old test books and studied on my own. I passed the test with room to spare, a 200 question four hour exam in which they proudly announce that this was a very good year, nearly 73% of the people taking the test passed.
I had a nice, cordial talk with my boss about changing careers, in which I said I would give him ample notice and he said he would write me a letter of recognition. I know that I would not be happy in any lab under any condiditons, and that it may not be the "fault" of the employer that I got sick. My arguement is still that they have to have workers compensation insurance, so honor my claim or answer for it later after you die and go to heaven and stand before God in judgement , you @&#%!
I began sending searching the internet and throwing my name out there. Every job I have applied for has landed an interview, and the interviews have been going well. Probability is high that I will land a job soon. There are not many people with this license with a degree in Nutrition, and there are many more jobs available for people to run dining services in nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities than there are jobs for people who can operate an inductively coupled plasma atomic emmision spectrometer. The proverbial silver lining around the shroud of the darkest cloud is begining to appear.
So, if you really hate your job, find a way out. There is always a way out, even if you are too old, inexperienced, over qualified, secure with your current pay grade and benefits, too deep in debt, ect, ect, ect. It's not a question of making the decision as much as it is a question of setting the goals and followng through with the plan. Will I enjoy feeding elderly, disabled, sick people more than performing chemical analysis on samples from water treatment plant or chicken processing plant runoffs? Definately.