toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

May 03, 2010

dying for a window

Freda is experiencing a problem particular to return to work moms who have been accustomed to spending their days at home with plenty of natural light and sunshine. She is incarcerated in a windowless workplace.

"I had my last child at 35," explains Freda, "and I spent five glorious years at home raising my baby until my husband and I felt comfortable about me going back to work. I’m the baby of my own family, and I was largely neglected, so I wanted to give my last child the very best start in life."

"I expected lots of problems when I returned to work," says Freda, "and I had to face tons of them, but none affected me so badly as not having a window in my workplace."

A lot of people feel deprived without natural light and would gladly relinquish a windowless office of their own in exchange for a little desk that was bathed in natural light all day long even if it did mean sitting next to an obnoxious coworker, and Freda is one of these people.

In Freda’s workplace, there is absolutely no natural light - not even for the managing director. When she arrives early in the morning and leaves late at night, the only daylight she sees every day is that which she can catch during her lunch break.

"I work in a furniture store as a clerk," says Freda, "and I’ve got plenty of space in the back room but the artificial light is getting me down. I really miss not having a window to look out of."

"I’ve tried sticking a large picture of an outdoor scene on the wall facing me," laughs Freda, "but it just doesn’t work. There’s something about natural light and a view, even if it’s just a view of the factory next door, that makes a difference to my wellbeing."

Spending eight hours a day or more in artificial lighting is unpleasant, but as far as she knows it will not kill her. It’s possible, though, that Freda suffers from some seasonal affective disorder caused by lack of light, in which case her health could deteriorate and she should get this checked out.

"I haven’t been back at work long enough to know if it’s homesickness or working in a windowless backroom that’s causing my depression," sighs Freda, "but the job is otherwise satisfactory and I’m determined to grin and bear the fluorescent lighting as much as I can for as long as I can."

"I’m trying to get as much natural light and sunshine as I can during my lunch breaks and weekends," explains Freda, "and if all else fails I’ll get one of those ultra-violet lamps to give me a bit of artificial sunshine!"

"It’s something you never think about," says Freda. "When we’re home taking care of kids we take natural light and sunshine for granted. It’s only when you get a job like mine that you realize how devastating it can be to work in artificial light all day long."

"I certainly don’t work in a mushroom management company," laughs Freda, "my boss is very open and concerned about staff morale, but we all work under mushroom conditions, including him!"

"I wish I worked near a park or a garden," sighs Freda, "it would be so much nicer to soak up a bit of sunshine in pleasant surroundings during my lunch break. I just sit outside the store on the steps and breathe in the vehicle fumes!"

"I guess I have to put things into perspective," says Freda. "There are a lot worse things than not having a window at work, and five days out of seven spent under artificial lighting without a view of the outside world is really not going to kill me, right?"

"It kind of reminds me, in a way," muses Freda, "of being the baby of my own family, always overshadowed by my big brothers and sisters, never shining in my own light. Maybe working in the backroom of a furniture store is not good enough for me. At 40 I suppose I should be setting the world on fire! Not literally, of course, but maybe this windowless return to work job I landed up in is going to be a wake-up call for me."

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