Rambling Man Update! Re: Employee Who Wants To Express Herself

The letter writer featured in the Rambling Man column earlier this week sent in an update, and we wanted to share:

Thank you both so much for your thoughtful responses to my letter. The combination of Ester’s practical advice and Josh’s examination of the bigger moral issues made for great reading. Here’s an update if you’d like to publish it. (I, personally, love LW follow ups.)

I decided to make it work at my current job. My career counselor (who I maybe should have consulted before this all went down, but, you know, hindsight) convinced me to wait until I had been employed 90 days before bringing up my writing again. Frankly, I’m happy to lay low for a while and consider what it’s worth now that I know what’s at stake. I may use a pen name as Josh suggested in the comments, but my employer insisted on seeing anything even if it’s submitted anonymously or under a nom de plume. Not sure how they plan to enforce that, but that’s their expectation. So we’ll see.

I guess I just also wanted to say that this experience really showed me how much being a caregiver to a child and ailing spouse has dominated my life the past couple years. Even this new job was more about being the breadwinner than reaching personal career goals. We lived comfortably before, but Josh was right. More seemed not only better, but mandatory, even if it meant compromising on intangibles like work culture. My initial response to my work’s restrictions was probably a knee jerk reaction in opposition to that.

Now that I’ve had time to think it over and talk more with my husband, I’m definitely choosing to continue in that role while also thinking about how to alleviate the pressure in less risky ways.

Josh replies:

Thanks for sharing, not just the follow-up but the initial question. A couple weeks earlier, I had written, somewhat cavalierly, that I judge people to a certain degree based on where they work — like, if they work in an industry that I consider morally suspect, I let that affect my assessment of them. Commenters rightly took me to task, and your situation really drove home how little I considered the million personal necessities that require people to do the things they do.

I still think you should write under a pen name, because they totally won’t find out and you’ll feel more fulfilled and you’ll get your hands on a little bit of that vast store of internet content generation money that pays for my debauched lifestyle of drinking beer and eating wings while watching Mets games at a corner bar.

Ester adds:

I appreciate Josh’s advice, and he’s right that your company may never find out, but maybe don’t be dishonest and write under a pen name if you’ve been asked not to. That might end up being another stressor to add to a pile that’s already bigger and more precarious than you deserve. Then again, I may be more risk-averse than the average person.

Of course you deserve to be able to express yourself. For now, though, as I said, I advise doing so in judicious and thoughtful ways. Be above-board and that will help burnish you in the eyes of your employers, rather than potentially making you seem suspect.

And yes, thank you for writing in (again)! Despite all the burdens you’re shouldering, you sound like you’re in really good shape, and you should be proud.

Have a question for Rambling Man? Email ester@thebillfold.com with Rambling Man in the subject line.