I live in Hollywood. My daughter goes to school in the middle of Hollywood. When she was in kindergarten, a parent of one her classmates came in and talked about what they do for a living. In this small large town, there are plenty of creative sorts: producers, actors, television writers, and painters. Also, we have other types such as ministers, restaurateurs, and business owners. They all sound fascinating. I’m intrigued. While riding in the car after school, my daughter turns to me and asks what I do for a living. My first instinct is to say, “I write a web series and blog about our lives and most importantly, you.” End of story. But it’s not true, I don’t make a living from it.
I work in Human Resources. I know you’re cringing. “What does that mean mommy?” she asks. Good question. I’ve been asking myself that for years. It’s a job most people think they can describe, but really have no idea. If you watch television or movies, HR is a dirty word. HR is the enforcement, the drag of the company. If HR is on their way, you better be prepared and the hackles are up. If you’ve seen “The Office” the HR rep, Toby, is the bane of Michael Scott’s existence and is treated like an intruder, annoying and depressing, a pimple on the face of Gwyneth Paltrow.
It’s also weird when you meet people in LA and they ask you what you do literally in the first minute or so. It defines you or the people asking are attempting to define you. They look at you and expect something exciting and fresh. We’re in LA, you must be a music producer working with The Biebs or a writer on The Mindy Project. When I actually open my mouth and say what I do, I find myself apologizing for it because of the perception around it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked long and hard for my career and am very proud of what I do, but to the face of LA it doesn’t really hold up. When I travel, I just tell them my creative life and it seems much more satisfying, to them and to me.
I don’t need to go into the “real” part of my job, but there are some real misrepresentations about it. I am the work counselor, coordinator, and culture officer, with a mix of all the other responsibilities. I never get thanked and am always relied upon. I can never be friends with anyone at work, but I am friendly to everyone. I put my own “creative” spin to my work, it enables me to be the not the norm HR professional. I am myself at work and do not hide who I am in the least. My friend recently told me I have the worst job in the universe. Ouch. That hurt.
I have had every kind of employee issue under the sun. It’s a regular Melrose Place with a mix of Mad Men, except without the glamour. In my personal life, I am a sensitive person, however HR has made me thick skinned, I don’t take anything personally and nothing is about me. Recently, the face of Human Resources has changed. Literally. Instead of Toby, think of Anna Kendrick or Mila Kunis. It’s become more of the Human in Human Resources instead of the black hooded hatchet figure. HR is bringing the sexy back. I better get back to the gym stat.
I’ve wrestled with my duality for years; coming home after work sobbing how I’m a creative person and what am I doing with my life. Brilliantly, I hatched a plan to chuck it all and live off tortillas and Tapatio. I was so self-involved in my pity party that I even told my husband how I need to divorce him to find someone to support my creative side. I loved him, but love was not enough, I needed a sugar daddy. Luckily my husband has a good sense of humor.
Through all my trials and tribulations, at the heart of my job is people and trying to improve the quality of the work environment. Have I lost you yet? Even though I am a creative, I take the aspects of my job that really satisfy me. I’m like a psychologist and often times, employees walk away feeling good, being able just to have an ear. Sometimes they hate me too. HR is not for sissies. So, after much contemplation, I turn to my daughter and say” I help people like their job.” There’s a silence and then she speaks “Did you know Max’s dad removes lava from volcanoes.”