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Thoughts for Thursday (07/21/2022)- Working for a Living

Somehow, the stars have aligned, and my morning coffee is doing its job. So, I’ve found the time and energy to toss out a new “Thoughts for Thursday” for the three of you that are kind enough to read this drivel.

I hate going more than a month without having a new TfT to add to your collection. If it happens too often, I’ll need to rename this “Monthly Madness” or some other stupid name and then I would have wasted all the money I spent on getting a trademark for “Thoughts for Thursday” plus the T-Shirts I just had made and that would just make me even more irritated than I normally am and who wants that?

As much as I enjoy having thoughts and sharing them with the universe, I do this when I’m able and in the right mood because I don’t want writing this to become work. And there you have the inevitable topic for today- Work.

Thoughts on Work.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Jack who? Can we get some specifics here? He was probably dull to begin with and work had no effect whatsoever. But I digress.

At some point, I am certain we have all been asked, “What’s your dream job?”. Usually, this is asked when you are far younger than I am, and your life is an endless road of possibilities instead of the one lane highway with bumper-to-bumper traffic I seem to wake up to everyday, but I digress yet again.

What’s your dream job? I recently saw a Twitter post from Work Chronicles that asked this very question and provided a fantastic answer: Why would I dream of Labor?

It seems like a trivial joke for a tiny 4 panel comic, but what a thought-provoking answer.

We value hard work immensely, but why? We often value people by what they do for a living and in fact, it frequently defines us.

I’m a Lawyer, I’m a Doctor, I’m a Business Owner, I’m a Teacher, I’m a Drugstore Cowboy (I’m not entirely sure that last one is a real job or not, I never saw the movie).

Your initial impression of a person’s intrinsic value as a human being is often dictated by what they do for a living, which more times than not is completely inaccurate.

Some teachers are jerks. I’m not naming names here, but I’m just saying.

Now I’m talking first impressions and certainly don’t want to suggest that I go around stalking people on Facebook to see what they do for a living so that I can secretly judge them behind their backs. That’s what LinkedIn is for.

I honestly do respect hard work.

I have spent most of my life attempting to avoid it, so those who seem to have become so disciplined and hardened that they can do things I could never imagine being capable of would seem to deserve my respect.

But do they?

Maybe we need to rethink this a second? “Keep your head down and work hard and you’ll be rewarded”. Ok, this sounds like a propaganda poster that hangs on the wall at a sweatshop.

“Hard work is its own reward”. Hold up! This one is definitely an ad campaign created by Big Business to keep us pacified while we work 12-hour days for minimum wage and are told we can’t take our vacations and need to come in when we’re sick because that’s what hard workers do.

Seriously? No, the money I get paid and what it allows me to do with it is the reward.

(A quick tip from Uncle Steve- beware of companies that tell you they treat their employees like family. Families don’t have legal protections when they don’t pay you and if “mom” is the HR department, you’re probably not going to like the outcome of your complaint, but I digress for the third time).

Do you see my point here?

Yes, hard work is great, but let’s get real.

If you didn’t have to work as hard as you do, why would you? Even if you enjoy your job, I hope you have something else in your life that you would rather do instead. That’s called fun and I hear it’s what makes life worthwhile (not that I would know personally).

An interviewer asks a job applicant, “Why do you want to work for our company?” “Well, I’ve sort of become addicted to eating and paying rent, so I thought it might be nice to keep doing that”.

I’m a fan of a Reddit forum called Antiwork. It tends to be stories of awful businesses and how they frequently mistreat employees (I like to read them because sometimes they make my job seem better by comparison, so that’s nice).

Since I’m old and have been at the same job for so long, (Working at Computer Greeks located at 12222 S. Harlem Ave in beautiful downtown Palos Heights- Open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm for all your tech needs) I haven’t been out in the workforce having to go through the process since I applied to be an apprentice musket maker a few years back.

The stories they tell are absolutely nuts and the nonsense that employers are trying to normalize is even more insane.

Did you know that less than 20% of job postings list what they pay?

How can you be expected to apply for a job when they can’t even bother to mention what they value the work they require from you?

Employers don’t like being asked what the compensation is for jobs on the first interview. They consider it rude and want to hire someone who values other things above money. What the actual heck!

Many jobs also have a policy where you can be terminated for discussing what you get paid with other employees. It’s a freaking job! I’m not leaking military secrets to the enemy here.

If I had won the lottery like I planned on last week, I wouldn’t even be writing this TfT right now. Ok, maybe I would, but that’s because of my overall generous spirit and need to give until it hurts. Plus, the overwhelming adulation and acclaim isn’t so bad.

The social stigma of discussing our jobs and what we get paid is entirely created by employers who don’t want to be held accountable for pay inequality, discrimination, and general abuse of their employees.

If this country hadn’t instituted child labor laws, you’d still have 8-year-olds working 16-hour days in the coal mines for a snickers bar they had to purchase from the company store for more than they made each day.

“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. At least this expression seems reasonable.

Encouraging someone to find a job they enjoy is certainly good advice, but then again, how many of us are this lucky? Statistics show less than 20% of people are “passionate” about their jobs. That means 80% of us are shooting for a level of job satisfaction that is just good enough so that we don’t have to go out looking for somewhere better to work. Not exactly a high expectation.

For all of those that do love their jobs and are passionate about going to work every day, how many of them would show up next week if they didn’t have to?

Wouldn’t it be nice to do what you love when and where you want to, instead of when and where you have to?

With so many of the monumental changes that the pandemic brought, one of them was the migration of so many to a work from home dynamic.

Jobs that always insisted could only be done in the office miraculously became jobs that you could do from your house without even having to put on pants (this is one of my dream job requirements if you want to know).

Amazing, isn’t it. And now that Covid seems to have relaxed enough, many employers are demanding that everyone return to work 5 days a week (they actually want you there 7 days, but those pesky overtime laws get in the way).

Every study shows that work from home for most jobs creates better productivity, results, and quality of life for the workers. Sadly, many employers are not concerned about these trivial things and despite the last 2+ years proving a work from home or hybrid model is superior, they are back to insisting that everyone return to what they want you to believe is still normal- 16-hour days working for a snickers bar.

I’m sorry, that was the old normal, I mean the new normal, 40+ hour work weeks with no regard for any semblance of quality of life.

I understand that I am exaggerating for the sake of making a point. Exaggerating just a little mind you.

I understand there are many great employers out there that genuinely care about the people that allow them to exist at all. I like to think that I’m one of the good ones.

But I can still vividly remember what it was like back in the olden days when I went through my job journey.

Being screamed at over the phone for calling in sick.

Being insulted and berated and told how lucky you were to have a job at all and how easy it would be to find someone to replace you.

Being told I couldn't take off the two weeks I had scheduled for my honeymoon. (Spoiler- I took the 2 weeks off exactly as planned).

Being made to feel guilty and then fired for taking time off to bury my father.

Yeah, I remember these things just fine.

Times have changed and over the last few years so have some of the expectations along with them, thankfully.

People got sick of being taken for granted, mistreated, and underpaid and began to demand more.

Suddenly, many businesses discovered you couldn’t pay minimum wage if you wanted anyone to work for you, especially the crappy jobs.

The world began to expect more than to just to have a job and work hard. They wanted to be happier doing it. Absurd, right?

No one wants to work anymore! They’re all just lazy!

I can not tell you as a business owner and an employer for over 25 years how completely idiotic this statement is.

Are there lazy people? Of course, I’m one of them.

Do I want to work? Not even a little bit.

I do it because it is a choice. I choose to support my family. I choose to eat. I choose to not live in the woods. I choose to be a productive member of society and not expect someone else to pay my way.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t spent my life looking for something better and easier and higher paying than what I might have had before.

In general, people want to work. They just don’t want to be miserable the entire time and at the end of the day, still not be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment and a meal out every now and then.

It doesn’t seem too much to ask, does it?

As far as my dream job, that I mentioned earlier?

Pro Wrestler.

Unfortunately, that was definitely one of those work really hard jobs that was never going to fit my play games all day lifestyle.

Oh well, until next time,

Stay safe and be well, Uncle Steve.

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