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Why Having a Job Has to Suck So Bad

Updated on February 6, 2012
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The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.


 Good Day eltravose

Why does having a job have to suck so bad? That is a big question with social, political, and economic implications. There are implications involving class and our educational system - any educational system in this world. Can the system tolerate everyone fulfilling her potential, doing well in school, going to college tuition-free and books-free and dormitories-free (of course it wouldn't be literally free, but supported by tax-payers - at least in my imaginary scenario), and then going off to get the job of her dreams?

Could the system withstand that, literally every school child fulfilling his or her dreams - every single school child? Surely not? Who would collect the garbage from in front of our houses? Who would work in the slaugherhouses preparing those fine meats for our supermarkets and restaurants? Who would wash the windows in the high-rise buildings?

Who woud make up our beds at the hotels and motels? Who would work the coal mines and oil rigs - and here we might remember the eleven men who gave their lives for BP, and America, I guess. Who would give us coffee and donuts, as well as other artery busting treats at the drive-thru morning, afternoon, and evening? "Who?" said the owl.

Who would wear those stupid uniforms to protect the malls of America from... from?.... from?... Well I'm sure those poorly paid and even more poorly trained security guards are protecting the heart of our consumer-driven economy from... something. I know whereof I speak, I was one. Uggghh!

Who would man those cash registers at the convenience stores, mall stores; and who would work as the stock clerks; and who would man those kiosk stands in the mall, sometimes their the owners trying desperately to convince themselves they're "entrepreneurs?"

We know why such jobs such on the basic level. There's poor pay and benefits, lack of job security on top of that, lack of discretionary control over how you do your job, you're micromanaged, often treated like a kid no matter how old you are (frequently one has to produce a doctor's note for being out sick a day), etc.

But the fundamental suckiness (I just invented the word 'suckiness') of these jobs goes deeper than that. One comes to understand that all of society itself, insists on seeing you as less than you are. You can tell this is so the moment you behave in any way that isn't strictly according to character of the job.

As the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote "A grocer who dreams is offensive to the buyer, because such a grocer is not wholly a grocer. Etiquette requires that he limit himself to his function as a grocer, just as the soldier at attention makes himself into a soldier-thing with a look straight in front of him, which does not see at all, which is no longer meant to see, since it is the regulation and not the interest of the moment which determines the point on which he must fix his eyes (the look "fixed at ten paces") (Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. edited and introduction by Robert Denoon Cumming. Vintage Books (Random House) New York, 1965. p.152).

But you may work in an office. You may have your very own card table of a desk in a six by ten space of your own in a lovely cubicle farm - just like Dilbert. That slice of Heaven!

Or you may have a very high-paying job in advertising or marketing or public relations. But the nature of your work might cause you to sometimes have to represent clients, who sell products that might run starkly counter to your values -- so much so that you almost feel like you have to take a shower before you go home to your family.

There's a lot of ways in which work sucks. Given how you feel, eltravose, let me ask you: Have you ever considered being a teacher?

First of all, there's the whole - doing something worthwhile and fulfilling - thing. Second, teaching is much more relaxed than the typical nine-to-five grind. Third, you get every summer off. Ten weeks paid vacation every year is pretty sweet, no? Frankly, I think every working person should have at least ten weeks off every year, just to be civilized

And who knows, you as their teacher, might say something that influences some of them to become the leaders of tomorrow, who, among other things, might do something to make working for a living suck less, perhaps. One can always dream.

Take care.


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