Panic Box

I threw away my Pan­ic Box today.

I have nev­er felt ter­ri­bly secure at my new place of employ­ment. Not that I felt unequal to the tasks assigned me; rather I feared the work­ing con­di­tions might prove unbear­able, and I would be unable to car­ry on under such. After what seemed like­ly to become a revolv­ing door of man­agers, the one that stayed has wrecked hav­oc on my soul with her tru­ly epic inep­ti­tude and appalling­ly non-exis­tent man­age­ment abilities. 

For most of the past year I have kept a card­board file box under my desk. In this box I have kept most of the per­son­al items I have seen fit to bring with me to work: cof­fee mug, spoon, the adjustable stamp kit my par­ents gave me when I was eight years old. A sin­gle framed pho­to of my son and my father sat at the back of my desk, while my trea­sured Tolkien cal­en­dar hung on the wall of my cube. Noth­ing else adorned my cubi­cle, noth­ing else made the space my own. My idea was that in a few moments time I could throw into the box what­ev­er I would want to take with me when I walked out, nev­er to return, an event I expect­ed to hap­pen very soon. I did not know how long I could endure the sit­u­a­tion, but I was sure that any day it would final­ly be just too much. And when that day came, I did not want to be slowed down by excess pos­ses­sions, or risk leav­ing behind any­thing I would miss. I just want­ed to grab my box and walk into the cold world, job­less but free.

But I have endured longer than I ever could have imag­ined pos­si­ble back in those dark­est day of the sum­mer and fall of last year. I have weath­ered what I hope is the worst of what this par­tic­u­lar man­ag­er can do, and I have come out of the storm still shin­ing. And I have final­ly reached escape veloc­i­ty, career-wise. This month I took a new posi­tion with the sys­tems sup­port group at the same facil­i­ty. This is new ground for me, but it offers far more oppor­tu­ni­ty for career advance­ment, which is impor­tant to me now that I have peo­ple I love depen­dent on me for their sur­vival. I am near­ly incred­u­lous at the dif­fer­ence in atmos­phere between my new work envi­ron­ment and my old one. Both my new man­ag­er and my new col­leagues are tru­ly peo­ple I enjoy com­ing to work with each day. And even after a few days I knew that my life at work had tak­en a com­plete turn for the better.

So I have moved into my new cube in a way that I nev­er, in a year and a half, moved into my old cube. A pic­ture of my wife and son hang at eye lev­el in front of me. An assort­ment of amus­ing and/or inspir­ing quo­ta­tions are pinned up all around me, the same quotes that I hung on my door back in col­lege. My cof­fee things are in a bot­tom draw­er of my new desk. And today I placed the now-emp­ty Pan­ic Box on the pile of box­es in the load­ing dock, since I won’t be need­ing it any more. I can set­tle in now, pan­ic-free, and start to feel good about going to work again. This is a day I long feared would nev­er come, and I am very glad it has.


  1. Con­grat­u­la­tions! That is won­der­ful. I’ve been at my job for 9 years now and while I’ve moved around a lot in my build­ing, I’ve nev­er been happier.

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