A crappy job is better than no job at all….right? How low would you go?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION A crappy job is better than no job at all….right? How low would you go?

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    Well, Maui is the number one island destination for marriages. It was sheer luck, fate or whatever you wanna call it on how I ended up here. I was on vacation when I applied for the open position. I actually took a pay cut; my salary at HNTB was higher. However, the 4 extra paid holidays I receive more than makes up for it. And above all…this is stress-free living and working.

    I don’t know, I think if you are willing to get up and move you’ll find many opportunities out there. Again that goes back to my marital status comment. This period in your life is gonna make you better in the long run. Always look at the glass half full and keep those eyes open!

    Huli pau!




    When you experience a tragic event early in life, you quickly realize everything else is small potatoes. We all have to go sometime, right? Might as well enjoy each day! And when you can’t wake up in the morning looking forward to a day in the office, then its time to do something different.

    A hui hou.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    Despite lessons of relative magnitude learned from early tragic events it’s impossible to deny the basic need for money. You might not be doing exactly what you want but you’ve got food in the fridge and a roof over your head… without a plan “something different” will entail moving in with your parents or becoming homeless. I suggest you stick with it until you find what you’re looking for…


    Huh…What are you even talking about? Did you read my previous comments on page 4? Yeah I know there are people who look at the glass half empty. If money is the first reason on why you accept a job, then you won’t be there for long. Obviously, you haven’t walked in my shoes or know the circumstances of my life, so you shouldn’t make such comments. Believe it or not, people do have different priorities. Geographical location, co-workers and what I do take precedence over money issues. 

    I never said anything about not having a plan. In fact, completely the opposite if you read my previous post. Personally I feel if you remain in a job you dislike for the “need of money” and keep waiting around until you eventually “find what you’re looking for”, then life is slowly passing you by.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    That’s great… and you haven’t walked in my shoes either. Wanna share sob stories?

    In my experience, being flat f*ing broke sucks no matter where you are or who you are with. 8 hours is 8 hours. Man up and do the job until you can afford to make a change. Not everything you dislike can be classified as “life passing you by”.

    If you have a trust fund, then great, knock yourself out and quit that job you don’t like… go do whatever you want whenever you want. The rest of us have to work. It’s not a matter of priorities it’s a matter of necessity. Food, rent, insurance, cell phone, car, gas… those are pretty basic to modern existence and $8/hr, even if it’s at a job you love, doesn’t cut it.

    If I had a chunk of change I sure as hell wouldn’t be sitting in my moms basement right now. Unfortunately, the reality is that I’m unemployed and don’t have enough gas money to get beyond the mid-west much less to make a deposit on an apartment and hold me over while I find work… I guess when you live in Hawaii all you need is a beach to sleep on, a pair of shorts, flip-flops and a can of Spam…

    BZ Girl

    I have to say i am somewhere in the middle between mauibob and thomas. I have lived in both worlds and see the benefits of both. I actually did live in Hawaii for 2 summers, in a tiny ass apartment not much bigger than my current bathroom now, working at the old $8 an hour job with no benefits…and i can’t remember a happier time in my life. Spending my days surfing and hanging out at the beach, spending my nights waiting tables, meeting fascinating people from all over the world. I know what mauibob means when he says ‘life is passing you by’ while you sit at your miserable desk job hating life. Every day in Hawaii was pure joy. I never felt more alive.


    On the other hand, i am a ‘grown up’ now and feel compelled to oblige the rules of modern society. The ones that say you need a ‘real’ job, with a substantial amount of pay, and benefits, no matter how crappy and miserable you may be. There is a mortgage to pay, and health insurance, and car insurance, and dental insurance, and life insurance…sweet jesus my entire paycheck practically goes to insurance alone, nevermind food clothing and shelter. So yes, i play by the rules and sit at my desk all day and keep rowing away with all the other slaves. But in the back of my mind, a tiny little piece of my soul keeps whispering ‘remember hawaii?’ And i can’t help but wonder if i’ll ever know that kind of sheer joy of existence again. Probably not as long as i’m stuck at this desk, running the rat race like everyone else. 



    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Well, your first step to a positive attitude, if you choose to adopt one, is that you can see that no matter how miserable that you think you are, there are plenty who would gladly take your place. People are jealous of your position. Not to take happiness from other people’s misery, but I can tell you that there are not too many times in my life that anyone has been jealous of any job that I had and I’m a great deal older than you. You might want to celebrate the moment.


    This is beginning to sound like the age old arguement that “if you paid me more, I’d work harder” vs. “if you worked harder, I’d pay you more”. Maybe the new person was hired because everyone else seems unmotivated and they hope someone new might “want to own it” more rather than shutting it down when the going gets tough.


    It is not about whether your bosses appreciate you or they are making money. It is not about them at all. It is about you. Develop your skills in the tough conditions of the current economy. Prove to yourself that you have the ability emotionally to handle dealing with tough people (clients can be just as bad if not worse). Surfing in Hawaii is not going to develop your professional abilities and stamina. You are just getting started and you are ready to give it up instead of work through it.


    These are the times when the cream rises to the top. Someone will eventually notice whether it is from the inside or the outside. You have a huge opportunity. If your bosses are so bad, everyone else knows it and will notice whomever comes out of that place as a producer with a good attitude. The quitting complainers will be a dime a dozen. Will you shine or or will you whine?


    I understand the idea of glass half full, but waking up every day looking forward to a day in the office?  That’s a bit fluffy.  It will always be work, that’s why they pay you to do it.  That’s why people look forward to retirement.   Life isn’t passing you by if you are unhappy at your job.  You’re still getting experience, getting paid, you have health insurance, paying bills on time, adding to the retirement fund, eating properly…….

    A crappy job or no job?  Keep your crappy job.  Odds are that if you quit, the next job you find will only be crappier. 


    As someone pointed out previously, these are not normal times. People in the AEC industry are in survival mode. You are blessed to have a job right now and you should be happy about that.


    Even if you were registered, starting your own studio is even harder than working for someone else. Unless you have a lot of work lined up, chances are you would be putting in twice the amount of hours for little or no pay. You can have a web site, advertise on local media sources and attend every networking event known to man. But that still doesn’t mean that your telephone will ring with new business.


    Take a step back and assess the real situation. Right now you are amongst the lucky few that have a job in landscape architecture. I recommend that you look at the situation as temporary. Maybe you are being treated unfairly at your current position, but what’s the alternative? Use your current job as a vehicle to get you through this economic downturn. It wouldn’t hurt to pursue other LA positions right now. But don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. When business picks up you will have more options.


    Currently there is no such thing as a crappy job.

    Brian Hochstein

    Check out “The Dip” by Seth Godin.  It is on my reading list, just haven’t got to it yet.


    Here is what the author says about his book:


    “It’s a mind grenade, a little bit of insight that will help you see what’s causing your organization (or you) to get stuck. Here’s the official description:

    The old saying is wrong-winners do quit, and quitters do win. [PS The Dip just hit #5 on the New York Times bestseller list.]

    Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point-really hard, and not much fun at all.

    And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe you’re in a Dip-a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try.

    What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

    Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt-until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can become number one in your niche, you’ll get more than your fair share of profits, glory, and long-term security.

    Losers, on the other hand, fall into two basic traps. Either they fail to stick out the Dip-they get to the moment of truth and then give up-or they never even find the right Dip to conquer.

    Whether you’re a graphic designer, a sales rep, an athlete, or an aspiring CEO, this fun little book will help you figure out if you’re in a Dip that’s worthy of your time, effort, and talents. If you are, The Dip will inspire you to hang tough. If not, it will help you find the courage to quit-so you can be number one at something else.

    I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I will teach you how to ask the right questions.”


    Okay…we’ll have to agree to disagree and stop it there! I see this going around in circles.

    Thomas, your “experience” is nothing compared to my so-called sob story. You are single and can move about in an instant, basically…liquid. Shoot, job opportunities should be knocking on your door day and night. Food? Who needs it? 2 meals per week are plenty sufficient to live on. Just drink plenty of liquids. Your unemployment insurance should cover lavish weekend trips to Vegas. Mom makes you pay for rent in her basement? $8 bucks an hour is more than I make in a day! Consider yourself lucky.

    On the serious front, I’ve been in your and BZ Girl’s shoes more than you know…well somewhat anyway. Let me make this story short, sweet and to the point. After graduating in Dec 1998, I took my first non intern, real job in mid-January as a designer in San Diego for a small firm. The pay was fantastic for entry level. My immediate supervisor and the Principle/Owner were absolutely atrocious to work under. I went through a similar situation as BZ Girl described in her commentary, although mine had nothing to do with salary reduction. Basically it was termination or I give notice. After seven months of mental abuse, I was so ecstatic to walk in the office and give my resignation without a two week notice. I informed them of my decision on a Tuesday morning and that Friday, same week was my last day. Adios amigos! Needless to say, I celebrated all weekend with friends and my two roommates! Certainly the employment picture wasn’t as bleak then as it is now. The economy didn’t fall over a cliff. Nevertheless, I walked away while keeping my dignity and a nice, little savings bank account to fall back on.

    Let me tell you, I have never again mentioned that I worked for this company to anyone! While employed for them, I took some night classes (Photoshop, Illustrator and Business writing) at a local community college for self training. I wrote on applications and my resume that I was in school during those 7 months. It took me almost two months to accept a new position in Sacramento and all the while partying in San Diego/Tijuana’s night scene. There were many personal lessons learned while at the San Diego office. A future job or any job wasn’t going to cut it unless I made a real connection to the firm and its employees during the interview process.

    Obviously, everyone has a different set of circumstances. Some have a family to support and others do not, which ultimately affect being able to move to a new location. Its funny you mentioned shorts and flip-flops, because on Aloha Fridays that is my office attire. Yes, really! Sometimes flip-flops during the other work days. If I told you my typical work day, my full ocean view condo in the neighborhood of Maalaea, a stress-free commute whether on private auto or public bus or bicycle, the fact that I pay no health insurance cost and receive full benefits…you would be green with envy. I paid my dues to get here and made bold decisions about my career path and who to work for. I’m just a firm believer that you make changes to your life if you don’t find it enjoyable anymore, instead of accepting things at its current state. Nobody to blame but yourself. Again, that’s just me and not for everyone.

    Boy-ohh-boy, gone are the days when a prospective employer would pay for your flight, hotel and rental car fees for an interview at their office. Good luck out there, Thomas. Hopefully you and many others do find something…ASAP! You probably need to eat more than twice per week and use the ‘pay as you go’ cell phone payment plan. The stock market is robust and soon there’ll be 4 jobs available for each 1 candidate. Be well, my brother. Malama pono.


    Please read above my comments to Thomas!! And pay CLOSE attention to paragraph 4, beginning with “Obviously”. Some of us really do have dream jobs we love and live in paradise too. If I lived in Jersey, I wouldn’t look forward to a day in the office either. 

    “Odds are that if you quit, the next job you find will only be crappier.” Well said. Please someone hire you at the next high school career day as a motivational speaker.


    I love it!! Thanks for the info. Mahalo. I’ll try to read it this weekend.

    Nic Wurzbacher

    So quit. Having been on both sides of the coin. All good business owners are ALWAYS looking for the best. Most good business advice is …..if a great candidate walks in the door, figure out how to make it work and hire him. Your loyalty is great but……………business is business. Its not a personal slam against you, he has to do what he has to. You do what you have to. You can go talk to him….worst case scenario you get more money or your on your way. YOU are not happy. Don’t tell us tell your boss! Running a business is a nightmare, his goal is to maximize his profits,yours is to maximize your value in the form of a paycheck. You want social justice move to the middle east. Stop thinking like an employee and think like an owner. If you took all of the emotion out of how you feel and rationally  state your case you may be surprised at the outcome. Or……quit, and don’t blah blah about why you can’t. Really quit and start your own gig, many,many successful businesses have started in a down economy. Take nothing I have said as an insult, I truly would like to know how this turns out for you.

    Ray Freeman

    Does this firm have a name? Sounds like real jerks are in charge.


    Toxic workplaces exist. Toxic bosses also exist. Neither is a good thing.

    The question one should ask is, if I’m miserable, treated poorly, and underpaid, can I find some place better to go? And start spending time and energy doing just that! I’ve has at least 3 situations in my career where I knew I had to leave. Two involved toxic bosses. One was just doing a job for which  I really had no enthusiasm. Bailed. On two of those occasions, I left without having another option….they were that bad. However, when the entire economy is in the toilet, that makes it much harder.


    Forcing people to take a salary cut, plus expecting them to work overtime, plus showing no appreciation or giving any compensation indicates either:

    The people running the office are incompetent.

    Or The people running the office are exploiting their employees.

    Or both…

    Life is too short, IMO.



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