Don’t @ Me: I loved my 9 to 5

I found unexpected fulfillment in an office job

Working a corporate job was more fulfilling than I thought. Graphic Joey Bruce

About a year after I finished my undergrad, I did it: I got a 9 to 5. 

Naturally, it had nothing to do with my degree. With no related experience, I was looking at an entry-level salary. Still, it would be the most I’d ever made. I promised myself I would only stay a year, pay off my student loan debt, and get out of there as fast as I could. 

Almost as soon as I arrived, however, my plans changed. There was something about the coffee machines, the carpeting, the business casual outfits—I was hooked. 

It seemed the office I stepped into had gotten more than a few things right. For one, my team was fun. Sometimes the chatter and The Office-style gags at our desks would crack me up so much that I’d have to get up and go to the washroom to compose myself. 

I found myself happily giving in to the water cooler conversations and the cringe-worthy human resources “team work makes the dream work” attitude. My colleagues once remotely connected to a projector screen in the middle of someone else’s meeting, took over the ongoing presentation, and put up a Youtube video of screaming goats. I almost peed my pants. 

More importantly, this was my first real experience of what seemed to be a healthy work-life balance. Much to my amazement, people sometimes got up from their desks at 4 p.m., said their polite goodbyes, and went home. I had never seen this before, whether working at cafes or interning in the nonprofit sector.

This was my first job where the pressure seemed manageable. Working for a big company meant work was suddenly a lot less personal. When I had worked for small businesses, I was tangibly aware of my necessity. Now, I was just a part in a giant machine, and a replaceable one at that. Rather than this making me feel small, it was a major weight off my shoulders. 

My corporate life provided me with so many things that we all should have but don’t. My partner and I suddenly had extensive dental coverage, I had days off abound, a liveable wage, and lots of expensive granola bars up for grabs in the office kitchen. It was like a capitalism security blanket; one I wish we could all have, albeit not necessarily via the same means. 

But my time in the office was short-lived. Only four months after I got there, we were ominously told to take our laptops home after work, just in case. This was on March 12, 2020, and I haven’t gone back since. I still have the key to my desk, where my notebooks—relics from a pre-COVID life— encapsulate what once was.

I’m not saying office life is for everyone—it might’ve not even been right for me. Within a few more months, soul-crushing monotony may have snuck in as the novelty wore off. But for the time it lasted, I really did love my 9 to 5.