Is the grass ALWAYS greener?
April 9, 2013 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I hate my job. HATE my job. I've worked here for 21 years, doing soul crushing work for the state court system. I haven't had a pay raise in seven years, not even a cost of living raise, have had my benefits scaled back and am looking at an even greater workload due to potential layoffs for my fellow employees unlucky enough to have been here as long as I have. Is there any chance that I can pick up stakes, move to Los Angeles, and hope to find a job paying me something comparable to what I currently make? (I apologize for the blizzard of snow flakes within)

I have no college degree or higher education of any kind. I have worked here since shortly after graduating from high school and, while soul crushing, the work paid well until the last few years. Now, I'm pulling my hair out and I'm literally in tears at the very thought of coming in to the office. Combine that with stresses at home and I'm both an emotional wreck and completely unsatisfied with what I do. I feel like I'm trapped and I desperately want to be happier both personally and professionally.

I'd love to work in the entertainment industry. I hold no acting or writing ambitions, but even something peripheral like office work would be far more interesting than what I currently do. I've searched for jobs online and everyone seems to want a degree - even if it's working in a mail room.

Should I just suck it up, keep trudging in to the office until I reach my 25 years and can retire (at half my salary) or do I make a bold move, hoping for the best? Any advice or insight, personal experiences or anecdotes would be appreciated!
posted by BrianJ to Work & Money (42 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
4 years for pay plus half pay retirement where you are free to do what you please?

Stick it out. Four years is not that long. Then move to LA and see what happens.

Find some joy outside your job for now.
posted by srboisvert at 7:54 AM on April 9, 2013 [25 favorites]

If you can retire in 4 years, after being there for 21? Please do that. Not very many people get that opportunity, and you'll be so glad you did.
posted by xingcat at 7:55 AM on April 9, 2013 [34 favorites]


There is no chance you will be able to find a job of comparable pay and benefits.

There has been a recession for the past five years, and there are no jobs available any more.

Stick with the job you hate, it is your only hope for the income that you will need to feed yourself.
posted by shipbreaker at 8:00 AM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

Could you use the last 4 years at work to get a degree in something that interests you, and then move? That way you won't be stuck for 4 more years - you'll already be working towards the next step.
posted by lyssabee at 8:00 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

It may not be the job that's bugging you so much as the fact that you feel trapped or stuck in your life. It also may be your thinking itself that makes you feel that everything around you sucks. Maybe, maybe not. I think it would be helpful for you to sort this out one on one with a therapist or trusted friend.

Assuming that the problem is in fact in your surroundings and not in your thinking: If you can STAND the work/people/money, stick it out. Once you retire you'll have some flexibility to look for other work. Check out certificate programs or just any kind of course at your local community college to see if there's something that suits you.

You mention "stresses at home" - I don't know what those are but if you're going to take a course or a program, make sure that it won't add too much to the pressure already on you.

Good luck - I know that "stuck" feeling and it's awful. And I have a couple of degrees!
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:03 AM on April 9, 2013

Should I just suck it up, keep trudging in to the office until I reach my 25 years and can retire (at half my salary)

Holy cow, YES! In four years, you're FREEE! You get half your salary for the rest of your life, and if you find another job, that's a job with a salary ON TOP of the 50% of your current salary you get for doing NOTHING!

So yes, stay 4 more years. Meanwhile, see if there's some kind of tuition-reimbursement available at work for getting a bachelor's degree part time so that by the time your 25 years are up, you can start looking for new jobs with a degree that you're almost done with.
posted by deanc at 8:04 AM on April 9, 2013 [15 favorites]

Combine that with stresses at home and I'm both an emotional wreck and ...

The stresses at home are probably less costly to deal with. Staying with your job doesn't mean you can't improve other aspects of your life. Consider going back to school, too.
posted by jon1270 at 8:04 AM on April 9, 2013

Do some kind of online course at a community college while you work until retirement. And get a therapist to talk to.
posted by discopolo at 8:07 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

What do you do with your free time? What's wrong with your home life? Why do you think Los Angeles would be a good place to live for you?

Four years. Four years could net you a degree or two. In four years, you could become fluent in a foreign language, invest in therapy, do some traveling and sock away a nice nest egg for the rest of your life.

Do you have a financial advisor or someone who can look at your assets and help you navigate the next stage?

The grass is always greener because you have no idea how that grass got green, who took care of it, how far it came from a debris-filled landfill to the perfect hillock today. And you didn't realize that mosquitoes grew that big.

There are ways to make an unbearable job more bearable. I'm with the others and say, take the pension. This is a gift of time and money. Use it wisely. Focus. Make it so that you are running toward something and not away.
posted by amanda at 8:09 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah, you can retire at 1/2 salary at 43. You are a lucky man. I'd stick it out.

Consider taking classes from an online school like Excelsior or Thomas Edison State College. Accredited state schools that will let you check off college degree when looking for a second career. I teach a little for one of these, I promise you won't be challenged....but it will get you your checkmark. Making starting a new job in your location of choice a little easier.

If you want us to speculate about your chances of getting another job making something similar to your current job, we need to know how much your current job pulls in.
posted by pseudonick at 8:10 AM on April 9, 2013

Stick it out for four years. You can use that half pay as your base for going to LA (or wherever) and finding cool part-time/entry-level/specialized work. Or stick it out for four years and go back to school somewhere cheap, then start over doing something else. If you started there out of high school, you'll "retire" in your mid-forties. That's enough time to retrain and work in a more fulfilling field.

Think about it - with your 'retirement' money, you will always have a base and you won't need to make as much money. You can afford to start some weird little job freelancing or running errands for people or whatever; you can afford to build your skills in something artisan and specialized, whether that's woodcarving or cake-baking or whatever strikes your fancy. If push comes to shove, you can rent a room in someone's house and do odd jobs. You can work part-time at something blah and then volunteer lots of hours in something you care about, building your resume until you can get a paying job there.

You have the opportunity to get in decades of low-pressure work. Don't throw it all away over four years.

Can you plan some things to make the four years worthwhile? Like, each year you will use your vacation days to [do something memorable even if not super-expensive]? Each year you will save up and buy yourself [something that leads to your dream hobby/alternate job]? Each year you will take a class or training in your desired field?
posted by Frowner at 8:15 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just putting this out there - even if the job ad says that they require a college degree they might not always absolutely require it. It's more like a screening device - "college degree required" is more like, we don't want a student. In most cases, work experience (21 years!?) can compensate for lack of a degree. A friend of mine applied for and got a job when the job ad said master's degree required even though she only has her bachelor's. They just wanted to hire someone who could write well and they thought requiring a master's degree was a way to screen for that but when they met her, they realized how fabulous she is and she's an amazing writer so it was an easy decision for them.

Sure, some employers won't look at your application if you don't have a degree. Some employers screen using GPA because they get a ton of applications for job openings and they can. And there are some positions for which you definitely need a degree. Plenty of people prefer to see doctors who graduated from medical school, for example. But I think that if I was hiring and received a compelling application from someone who didn't have a bachelor's but did have experience in the field, I'd be interested in talking to them. It's a lot harder to show up on time for a job for years (21 years!?) than it is to do the minimum needed to earn a bachelor's degree.
posted by kat518 at 8:19 AM on April 9, 2013

Good lord, stick it out.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:20 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

The majority of entry level entertainment industry jobs in LA are freelance, no benefits, no job security, low (or even no) pay. This will be vastly easier to deal with if you are also pulling in 50% of your current salary. Not to mention you'll have the ability to walk away from the rampant on the job abuse that we freelancers are often forced to deal with in order to keep the lights on at home. Please stick it out, move to LA in four years, and kick ass without having daily panic attacks about how you will pay your bills.
posted by justjess at 8:27 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

And to join in the chorus--you will not get an entry level job in entertainment that will pay you close to what you make now. You will not get any job in entertainment that you will find remotely interesting, sad but true. If my math is right, you must be somewhere in your early 40s (?) and that's too old to start over in show biz, degree or no degree. The competition is fierce and the rest of Southern California's economy is struggling, to put it mildly.
I'd stick it out for the next four years, and then you can study screenwriting, write your memoir, take improv classes, move to Australia, whatever you like.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Another issue with looking for entry level jobs in LA is that all of the folks who are out there for writing/acting/etc are looking for other jobs until they get their big break. For that reason, it's probably significantly harder to find jobs like this in LA than another random place.

Stick it out at least for another 4 years.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:29 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I join the chorus and vote for sucking it up for four more years; it's not that long, and then you're free to make over your whole life! Don't throw away the 21 years.

While the four years are happening, you can explore new options. Take classes, get some volunteer experience somewhere doing something you might like, etc.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:29 AM on April 9, 2013

Yes, I would also stick it out. You've done the job for 21 years, 4 more won't be all that bad. Even if it will be a grind, remember that it will end. Show up, do your stuff and go home. Disconnect emotionally from the work. Don't clock-watch or calendar-watch. Anything can be bad if you've made your mind up to make it bad. And almost anything can be better if you make your mind up to make the best of it.

But what you should do is work on the rest of your life. Deal with the other stresses. Get screened for depression (considering that the desire to chuck it all and run off for greener pastures is a big depression sign.). Work is only a third or a quarter of our lives. So is sleep. That's a half or a third of your life that you can work on improving right now.
posted by gjc at 8:32 AM on April 9, 2013

I'm inclined to say that you should stick around so I'll offer some suggestions for surviving the next four years.

You say that your benefits have been cut. Are you using them? All of them? Personally, I know that my job offers a continuing education benefit that I have not yet used because I'm lazy. Do you have any type of educational benefit you can use? Are you getting the full benefit for any retirement plan you might have? Do you use your vacation days? What about your sick days? I don't see anything wrong with taking the occasional well-timed mental health day. What about your medical benefits? Are there any fun things you can do like get LASIK? Are you in therapy? Do you want to be in therapy? These are your benefits, you earned them, don't let anyone make you feel guilty for using them.

Also, work the hours that you're required to work and nothing more. No checking email at home. No staying late. Don't be a jerk about it but it's totally reasonable, in my opinion, to say to tell a manager that project is going to take me more time because you're also working on the things [former colleagues] used to work on. Make your manager say, this task takes priority over this one if necessary. If possible, no lunch at your desk. It will improve your work life if you can get lunch with coworkers but if not, at least sit someplace else for a few minutes and read a book or a magazine.

Do whatever you have to do to survive. This is a time-limited thing and you will get through it. You can make a countdown timer where you rip another number off the wall everyday after work. You can celebrate another week down with a cupcake. Buy yourself flowers at the end of every month. Go skydiving at the end of the year. Make a plan for how you will move. Give yourself things to look forward to - having another project done, sleeping in on Saturday, taking a vacation. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
posted by kat518 at 8:41 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh Jesus, I feel you on the "I hate my Joooooobbb" But Dude! Retire at half-pay. You can't pass that up.

Make your job about 1/5th of your life. I love the idea of getting a degree in the next 4 years. Start off in night classes at a Community College, it's cheap and cheerful. Also, easy. I promise, you won't even break a sweat.

Another thing you can do is become certified in Oracle, or SAP, or or CISCO or something like that. A happy, portable, decently paying skill.

Look into the Tutition Aid plan at your job, you'll be amazed at what they cover.

Another fun thing to consider is something in the Medical Field. You can typically get an RN via a community college. Providing you have the interest and the aptitude.

In the meantime, take vacations to California, cruise around and see what neighborhoods are interesting to you.

I'm interested in moving back to Florida. Atlanta is annoying me pretty regularly, so I have to focus on the goal, and hunker down. I know that I'll eventually be where I want to be.

So find something worthwhile to distract you for the next 4 years. As we get older, I promise the time fucking flies.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:44 AM on April 9, 2013

I have no college degree or higher education of any kind. ... I feel like I'm trapped

Sure, and this is why. It isn't your current job that has you trapped. It's your lack of alternative options, and the brick walls that you keep running into when you try to find new ones. If you gave two weeks' notice at your current job today, would that solve this problem?

Should I just suck it up, keep trudging in to the office until I reach my 25 years and can retire (at half my salary) or do I make a bold move, hoping for the best?

This is a false dichotomy. No, you should not make a blind move "hoping" for the best. That would be foolhardy. But neither does that mean you need to "just" keep trudging into the office every day. Get yourself an education. Explore different credentials and experience that you could earn. Network, network, network.

Four years is a long time to find yourself some opportunities and improve your prospects, so do that. That is the "bold move." Just randomly leaping off a cliff and "hoping for the best" isn't bold. It's dumb.

Also? I worked for a state court. No offense, here. I'm sure you work hard at your job. And I don't know where you live, so conditions may vary. But unless your work environment is tremendously, radically, hugely different from every state court I have seen in the several states where I've practiced have plenty of opportunity to get yourself an education. Your job might be soul-crushing but I seriously doubt that it's clock- and calendar-crushing. I know about hiring freezes, I know about increased workloads for the remaining staff, I have all the sympathy in the world for the conditions in state courts presently. But let's be realistic about how many people are still in the building seven minutes after closing time.
posted by cribcage at 8:49 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

keep trudging in to the office until I reach my 25 years and can retire (at half my salary)
Look, we're all dying of envy. I think if you leave, you will seriously regret it, and soon. There are not a lot of great jobs out there for someone with a specific skillset that generally has only government application.

Think of each day as an investment in a better life. And do everything you can to make your job and your life better. Take every training opportunity, look for the the good in your co-workers, do your best to serve the public as well as you can, and take pride in a dull job well done. Take courses, there are tons of free ones online, as well as degrees online. Learn about the movie industry, subscribe to Variety and other trade magazines. Make a calendar and count the days. When you get discouraged, think of how much freedom you'll have in 4 years. Half pay is not full pay, so start developing the new skills that will help you get re-employed.

Your severe dissatisfaction may be a sign of depression; go see your doctor.
posted by theora55 at 8:52 AM on April 9, 2013

My Dad waited to retire before moving to a different job and he's so much happier for it. Now he basically thinks of his retirement income as bonus money, and my parents use it to do the things they have always dreamt about. Even better, they've really been able to set themselves up for his real retirement.

I find I can't get through the days if I don't have something to look forward to. Start planning now -- think of the new career you can embark on, the trips you'll take, the cottage you've always wanted, the time you'll have to finish a book in one sitting. Give yourself goals to work towards over the next four years (I want to have ___ done by ___), something you have always wanted to complete. Give yourself small luxuries every so often, like a weekend away once a year.

A shitty job is so much more bearable if there is something more important to you to think about and care about outside of the job. Then the job just becomes a way to fund your passion.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 8:59 AM on April 9, 2013

Is it possible your employer is trying to get you to leave so they don't have to pay you half your salary in retirement? The decline in job tolerability may not be growing dissatisfaction on your part or any other kind of internal change, but a deliberate attack on you from outside. See if you can muster up some fighting spirit to defend the 25-year retirement you've nearly finished earning.
posted by kadonoishi at 9:00 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would bet money that your hometown has some sort of entertainment industry in which you can participate. Film, music, visual arts, dance...there must be some club, organization or group you can join that will give you experience, plus help you meet new people and have something to look forward to.

"Working on my passion while unemployed" is extremely nerve-racking. Nthing the suggestions to tough it out.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:16 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same boat. A little younger; no retirement in the near future, but I absolutely hate my work. I'm saving every last penny, living out of a rice-cooker, so that when I know what my next move is, I can pounce and have a cushion. I think the trick for me is finding out what my passion is. Once I know that, then I let the passion dictate my moves and hopefully my ass follows. Otherwise, as habit dictates, I'll probably end up doing the same sort of submissive subordinate work just somewhere else. That's my guess. Best of luck in your decision. There seems to be a lot of consensus in the above replies.
posted by halatukit at 9:32 AM on April 9, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the input so far, everyone. As halatukit pointed out, there is a huge consensus in the replies I've received. I'm definitely leaning in the direction of staying put for the time being, but I worry for my sanity in the meantime.

The idea of going to school in the remaining time I have until retirement seems very doable, but I have no idea what to study. I should have mentioned earlier that I live in Alabama, so that limits my options quite a bit.

BTW, cribcage, I understand completely what you're saying. I am most assuredly not here at 5:01PM, but there's precious little incentive for me to be - I get no overtime pay, I am not compensated for the use of my personal time. I apologize if I sound defensive...I just get it on all sides from both the public and the legislature, so I'm probably a bit more sensitive about that issue than I should be. I do appreciate your comments, though.
posted by BrianJ at 9:56 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

(I just want to pop back in and say, OP, that it's perfectly okay to work only the hours that you're paid for, especially in a field where there's no advancement, bonuses or anything much to be gained by putting in extra time, and doubly so in a job that is boring and low-status. Putting in unpaid extra time on a project that uses your intelligence and gets you some respect - that's one thing; being expected to have all kinds of emotional loyalty to a low-status, low-paid dead-end job that doesn't use what's best in you - that's a trick of capitalism. Lots of people in higher-paid, high-status jobs always wonder why, like, the food service staff and the janitors and the copy-clerks don't want to stay extra hours, and that's because richer, more respected people have an entirely different experience of work and time. Don't, for heaven's sake, feel bad because you're not ready to bleed for your file clerk (or whatever) gig, or because you expect to use the benefits you earn.)
posted by Frowner at 10:13 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Study anything you want. I just checked and Alabama has community colleges -- it even has some Universities! When I was changing careers, I took about a year (while freelancing) to take classes. I took intro to architecture, sculpture, global economics, graphic design, drawing, and urban planning. These were things I was interested in. I took a couple classes at the small, local University. I took a couple at the local art college and I took a couple at the community college. One of my favorite classes was the one on globalization and economics. Great professor. Interesting books that I would never pick up on my own.

Going back to school as a grownup is so much more fun. If you aren't sure what you want to do just throw a dart at anything new and try it out. You'll feel better and happier.
posted by amanda at 10:43 AM on April 9, 2013

I am most assuredly not here at 5:01PM, but there's precious little incentive for me to be - I get no overtime pay, I am not compensated for the use of my personal time.

cribcage isn't saying that you should stay late. He's saying, "All things considered, your job probably isn't a a catastrophe that is ruining the rest of your life." Presumably there's no hard physical labor, your workplace is air-conditioned, and you leave for home promptly at 5pm, leaving you time to work on other things and plan for your future.

Your responses are very familiar on AskMe. The dialog goes like this:

OP: What should I do? This is my situation.
Answers: You should do A, given the position you're in.
OP: But that's impossible! It just can't be done! I'm limited for reason X!
Answer: Oh, yes, that happens. That was like me, so I did B, and it worked out great!
OP: I just can't do B, sorry. That doesn't work out for me for reason Y.
... and so on.

Which may or may not be true but is usually reflective of the OP's lack of imagination/understanding and motivation, which many people on AskMe point to as a symptom of depression.
posted by deanc at 10:49 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

Another vote for staying put while working on some kind of training or certificate. There are lots of online options for you to try out learning different skills. I've taken some online classes at UCLA and they've all be great--people from all over have been in my classes. As far as I can tell, a college degree is not required for these certificate programs:
UCLA Extension certificate in Web Technology and Information Systems
Design Communication Arts
More here...

I think if you at least begin to take classes with the 4 year plan to get out, you are going to feel better. Plan some vacations or weekend getaways. Good luck.
posted by biscuits at 11:15 AM on April 9, 2013

But I have no idea what to study. I should have mentioned earlier that I live in Alabama, so that limits my options quite a bit.

No it doesn't.

What do you WANT to study in school?

You can become anything in the allied medical profession, X-ray tech, Sonographer, LPN, RN, EMT, Paramedic.

If that doesn't interest you, how about becoming a Paralegal. You can go to California and get a job out there.

Check out Funeral Services, or Vet Tech. All of these are available at Jefferson State Community College.

Another option is to check out Your state court skills may transfer to Federal Court. Look at the jobs that look intersting to you, and see what skills and education are required. My Dad went into the Federal Government as a Civilian with the DOD when he was over 60. My parent lived abroad in Japan and Germany until he retired just a few years ago.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:15 AM on April 9, 2013

Just to put things in perspective, I've worked several entry-level office-type jobs in the entertainment industry. In those jobs I tended to 60 hours a week, minimum, including working while eating lunch at my desk, with zero benefits. The pay range (a few years back, admittedly, but I don't think it's changed that much) was $500 - $750 a week, flat rate with no overtime. So please factor that in to your decision.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:24 AM on April 9, 2013

Response by poster: Don't mean to threadsit, but I had to respond to what you said deanc:

I'm most definitely depressed and I've been doing a lot of that type of thinking lately, especially when presented with options as to how to make things better. I'm currently in therapy and on medication and I'm trying to work my way through it all.

I do appreciate you pointing that out because I wasn't even aware that I was doing it. It's an easy trap to fall into and a hard one to crawl out of.
posted by BrianJ at 11:31 AM on April 9, 2013

Why exactly do you want to work in the entertainment industry, even if it's just peripherally? And why LA, specifically? I think it might be worth unpicking through that in therapy to see if that's what you actually want or if it's a stand-in for something else.

In the meantime, you might want to explore opportunities in Alabama's film and TV industry or, if music's your thing, see what's going on in Nashville.

* Alabama Film Office
* Empact Alabama
* University of North Alabama's Department of Entertainment Industry

Best of luck to you.
posted by evoque at 11:52 AM on April 9, 2013

I'm with everyone who says stay until you can retire. In the meantime, check out the local community college. Take basic liberal arts classes and see what you like. Ask if they have any kind of testing that could help you to decide on a major. Do your best to excel in every class you take, for your own self-esteem and so that you can transfer to any other college. Your classes will keep you busy and you'll meet interesting people you never would have met otherwise. And be sure to exercise, working and going to school can be stressful and exercise helps. The college might even have a gym! Good luck!
posted by mareli at 12:25 PM on April 9, 2013

I'll chime in and recommend you stay until you get your 25 years. Even with your benefits reduced, they might well be more than you'll get at a new job these days.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:38 PM on April 9, 2013

Start working on a degree now and work on it over the next 4 years while you continue working at your sucky job. Go at night. You will be extra miserable over those 4 years but you will then be able to retire, draw a pension, have a degree, and move to LA to follow your dreams....with a guaranteed paycheck and some kind of retiree health care benefit!!
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 2:15 PM on April 9, 2013

There's shows shot in Alabama--Rocket City Rednecks, to name one. If you're really interested, take a look at the production news published in Variety. (edited to fix link.)

If you want to learn a skill, like editing or FX work, check your community college or heck, get a camera and get going on YouTube. Industry cures melancholy (with the help of a therapist.)
posted by Ideefixe at 3:29 PM on April 9, 2013

Haven't finished reading all the comments yet, but I did want to say that you can do job aptitude testing at most schools. Some of them may even offer on-line testing, if you need help deciding what to do.
posted by annsunny at 7:49 PM on April 9, 2013

I worked in the entertainment industry in LA, and worked my way up from a low-paying assistant job. I moved out here when I was in my mid-20s and I was considered old for entry-level. I got hired because I have a film degree from one of the top film schools in the country. You will not get hired in the mailroom, or at any entry-level job here, without a degree and not knowing anyone, especially being your age and having no previous entertainment experience. Sad but true, and the money sucks and the jobs can be incredibly soul-sucking. Don't do it.

What you should do IMHO, (aside from sticking it out at your current job as everyone has mentioned), is stay down south and pursue the film industry down there. TONS of films and TV shows shoot in Georgia and Louisiana due to the appealing tax incentives those states offer. As a result, films and shows are always hiring local workers (because often that is a requirement for receiving the tax credit). If you can, over the next four years, I would take some film classes and then try to work on some local productions in Alabama as a production assistant on the weekends (usually just requires having a car, running errands, and carrying stuff.) You will learn more about the business on set than you ever would in a classroom, and you'll figure out whether you truly want to be in that business. As others have mentioned, you can check out your state's film commission for info about what is shooting near you.

Alternately, after you finish your current job, you could apply for jobs at entertainment companies down south. Atlanta is really becoming a huge production hub (and tech hub), has a MUCH lower cost of living than LA, and has a much less competitive entertainment job market.

Good luck!
posted by emily37 at 12:21 PM on April 10, 2013

I just get it on all sides from both the public and the legislature

Sure you do. The newspaper prints that somebody in the courthouse is related to somebody in the legislature, and the none-too-subtle implication is that everybody in the courthouse got their jobs only because they're connected. The public sees your salary, nevermind pension, and concludes that you're overpaid, ignoring that you'd be paid 50 percent more performing the same tasks in the private sector. You haven't gotten a raise in seven years; and every time the system fails in any way, there's clamor for heads to roll. That about right?

Want to know my favorite? It was how some jurors would look at us with contempt for not working. They'd walk past us in the corridor ten times a day, and after a week you could see what they were thinking: "My tax dollars employ these people who are just sitting there doing nothing." And that was true. Nine seconds earlier, all of us were working hard; but now there's a sworn jury approaching so we've basically frozen and gone silent, because we've been told seventeen different ways about the perils of provoking a mistrial.

But jurors don't know that. They don't see us nine seconds before they're in the corridor or nine seconds afterward. They just see state employees sitting idle. They don't know it's because of them. And they roll their eyes.

I hear you, my friend. I'm on your side. And what's more, I don't discount the other stuff you've mentioned about depression or motivation. Those are real issues. But once you work through them, what you've got is a steady paycheck with guaranteed-reasonable hours for the next four years. You won't be working nights, you won't be working weekends. Look at that as an opportunity—community college, technical training, whatever—and use those hours to position yourself for when 2017 arrives.

Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 1:45 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

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