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The Dreaded Annual Review
by Ellie Sinclair

There are a few events in life every person dreads: dentist visits, family gatherings, the release of the next Paris Hilton film. I was recently subjected to one such event when I had my annual performance review.

I'm an editor—I copyedit books for an educational publisher. At least my job description says I do. In reality, I spend half my time devising ways to appear busy without actually working and the other half implementing those techniques. It's not that I'm a slacker—it takes effort to avoid work without getting fired. And it's not that I find the job distasteful, though my lack of interest might be evident in the fact that I continually fail to grasp the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, between demonstrative and interrogative pronouns, yet could write an entire manual on the rules and regulations of beer pong.

No, the problem is that I have an artist's sensibility, a delicate desire to create that is stifled in a corporate environment. Enclosing me within the walls of a cubicle is akin to caging a cheetah or a lion. Such animals should be free to roam, to display their full magnificence, to pass the time uninhibited by the prying eyes of nosy coworkers who suffer under the delusion that drinking at work is an egregious sin.

And so I surf the Web, I make lists (shopping lists, to do lists, to don't lists, famous people I think will end up in prison lists), I daydream, and I gaze out the window, eyeing with envy the unstructured lives of the panhandlers below. I thought this level of productivity—at which I've been functioning since I was hired—was completely acceptable. Until my first performance review.

It started off well enough, with my boss praising my ability to color coordinate my office supplies and show up within an hour of the company's start time. But that's where the praise ended. Because next my boss told me that he was concerned with the amount of time I was spending on projects. That I was perhaps too thorough, too assiduous, too attentive to the minor details.

Poor sap. I didn't have the heart to tell him my current project was late because I'd lost it for five weeks under a stack of People magazines.

I was left with two choices after such a review: amp up my output or find a career more suited to my tastes, a career that would let me embrace my god-given talents of shirking work and lounging about in utter idleness. Pulling out a purple steno pad and a purple pen from my drawer of supplies, I came up with the following occupations:

1.      Heiress
2.      Lottery winner
3.      Pirate

As enticing as these occupations are, there are obstacles to entering any of them—my parents aren't rich; my financial straits are so dire, I'd need a bank loan to afford a lottery ticket; I'm afraid of parrots.

So with a career change out of the question, I'm resolving to put more effort into my current job. I'm buckling down. I will distinguish myself, rise through the ranks, and become the best damn editor that ever wielded a red pen…. Once I figure out what the hell a predicate is.