So it’s Friday. You made it through another work week. How’d you fare? Was it a good one? Not so good? I hope things weren’t too painful for you. Me? Ehh, work has become a function like breathing, blinking, or going to the bathroom. It’s a necessary function, but one I don’t really think about all that much. It provides me with the funds to put a roof over our head, heat under the roof in the winter and cool in the summer. It puts gas in our cars, clothes on our backs, and music in our ears. It allows us family vacations, dinner for two, trips to the comic book store, record shop, and Starbucks. It gets us into the cinema, the museum, and the amusement park. It allows us to be generous to others when they don’t quite have enough. It gives me reassurance that if someone gets sick we can afford to get them better.
These are things about my job that I am forever grateful for. Things I do not take for granted, or ever will for that matter.
But this is a job. Not a career, or a dream position. I have been and always will be just a cog in the machine. I don’t get any sort of satisfaction in the workplace(other than what I mentioned above.) I’m not saving lives or changing the world(though they’d have me believe the opposite.) No matter how much good we do in the world, the bottom line is money. If they can save some bucks and keep those top end bonuses nice and fat by canning some folks in the Midwest and pushing more manufacturing to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, China, and Mexico then that’s what they’ll do(and have done.) They did it just two weeks ago. 25 people clocked into work on a Friday and within an hour they were offered packages and sent on their way. Some had worked there for a year. Some had worked for 30 years. Some had spotless records; some not some much. It was a big, painful surprise.
I’m not saying I didn’t sweat it for about 3/4 of the day. I did. There was no rhyme nor reason that those that survived could see. It felt pretty random. This happened back in 2013, too. Back then we knew it was going to happen. They warned us. It was still bad, but at least it wasn’t like a random bullet flying through the picture window of a peaceful household and taking someone out. We were prepared for the worst that day. More than a few friends were let go then. More than a few were let go a couple of weeks ago.
So the last couple weeks have been tense. Still reeling from what happened, and a little sickened by management’s willingness to just move on to the next thing. A few of us see the writing on the wall. More work will head over borders south, west, and east. Less work will find its way to our plant. If the place is still running in three years I’ll be surprised. Shocked, really.
It’s time to figure out what I’d want to do. Not for a job. I’ve done the “just a job” thing for 24 years now. Something not so soul-crushing. Something I look forward to go to everyday. That would be something, wouldn’t it? My dad has been my inspiration in all of this. He had a job, too. Not a career or a passion. Just a job. For 50 years he plugged away at the same company supporting our family of four so we could live a reasonably comfortable middle class life(by 1970s-80s standards.) At 17 years old he lucked out and got a Journeymen apprenticeship at a Chicago-based printing company that had built a plant just 20 miles from his house in Northeast Indiana. He’d planned on going to the Indianapolis School of Art once he’d graduated high school(my dad’s an amazing artist), but with this job opportunity he felt he couldn’t pass it up. He lied about being 18 on the application and went for it. Figured he’d work a couple years then head to Indianapolis. He met my mom, then met my older brother(just three months after he and my mom were married), then 50 years later life got away from him. He did continue to put his artistic abilities to good use by drawing caricatures and comic strips of people he worked with that pissed him off. Some of them were hilarious and quite biting satire(think Mad Magazine and National Lampoon for references.)
My dad comes over and has coffee with me every Saturday morning. We rarely talk about work, though. He’s been retired for over 2 years now. He worked 50 years and 6 months at that place. He went to work whether he felt like it or not. He had a responsibility and he didn’t take it lightly. That made an impression on me growing up. It showed me that it’s not always about you and what you want. Sometimes you sacrifice your wants for everyone else’s needs. That’s just how it is. But with how things are at work nowadays, I’m thinking it’s time to pare down the money going out the door. Take stock of things. I may not find a job that will give me the benefits and money that I’m currently getting, but if I can get rid of some of this existential heft then I think it would be worth it.
Now might be the time to make that change.
I guess I’ve got a year or two left to figure it out. Until then I’ll keep plugging away, plotting my next move, and continue being a cog in the machine. I’ll keep looking forward to Fridays and movies, trips to the comic book store with my son, and date night with my wife, and all those things that keep us a tight knit family crew.
I’ll keep working for the weekend.