Here’s a little experiment for you to try at your worker bee job sometime. But beware. If you do this, there will be repercussions, punishment, and possible dismissal if you do, so tread wisely. Sometime, when things are slow, if you are standing around the counter, in your cubicle farm, or whatever hell you have gotten yourself into, just laugh. Laugh out loud. And watch what happens. Invariably, some boss/manager will come around and demand to know, “What’s so damn funny?’. Reply, “Nothing.”. Said boss will then say something to the effect, “Well, since you are enjoying yourself so much, let me find something for you to do.”. They will then punish you with what is popularly known as, ” Busy Work”. Busy work is nothing but exactly what it sounds like. Tasks that have no meaning, no purpose, other than to make you look busy. Busy work is always menial, boring, and unpleasant. And when things get busy again, and you are back to doing whatever it is you are supposed to do, you will catch hell if said busy work has not been completed, despite it’s utter uselessness. (I warned you, there would be consequences).
The idea of this little experiment is simple. Work is not to be enjoyed. Ever. Anyone who is seen enjoying themselves at their jobs is obviously not doing said job, and therefore must be taught a lesson on just where one stands on the worker bee hierarchy. The only exception is when one is working with the public such as a tourist type business, and even then, the happy is fake. A put on to make sure the customer has a happy, happy, joy, joy experience, and spends more money. For everyone else, work is not happy, so get back to work underling, lest you be banished to do inventory or clean something that has no value, but smells real bad.
Throughout my life I was always taught that I would have to get a job and go to work. The words, job and work were always emphasized in such a way as to indicate that whatever one did for employment was to be unpleasant, but necessary. Getting a job and going to work were always presented as something that seemed like a punishment, rather something that could be a rewarding experience. Even today, I have people tell me I need to go out and get a real job and go do real work, rather than muck about with this app nonsense or paddling kayaks around. The idea of having some sort of employment that doesn’t have set hours, where one does not punch a time clock, where one does not have an office, nor any of the other trappings of a corporate worker bee is totally alien to many. To actually enjoy what one does usually means that one is not making money nor advancing one’s career as one is expected. A job is hard work, and is something one must put up with, no matter how distasteful, or humiliating it may be. One must hate one’s employment, yet one must do it because that is what is expected. And you know what?
It paid off. I hated every single fucking job I ever had where I was working for anyone except myself. Every single one.
The least offensive job I ever had, where the money was good, the co workers were ok, even the boss was tolerable, was still a miserable experience. That was also my longest tenure, 6 years at one motorcycle dealership. Despite the nice paychecks, and the cheap health insurance, and set hours, I hated going to work every single day. Why? It felt like punishment. I had to put up with intolerable customers who whined like children if they didn’t get their way. Co workers who had seniority would bully the newer people around. The work itself was tedious and boring. And if I wanted the money, I had to be there, all the long day.
For all my other jobs, and yes, this may come as a surprise, there were many, it was far worse. I dreaded getting up in the morning because I knew I had to be someplace and put up with massive amounts of bovine fecal matter every day. A long commute, bosses who were little more than bullies, menial tasks that bored me to tears. If there were windows anywhere I would find my self staring at the cars going by, wondering where I could be that would be more better than where I was at. I was a clock watcher. If I worked until 6:00, I would stare at the clock from 4:00 on, just wishing my life away so I could get away from the tedium and hell. I lived for my time off, but many times I was so miserable from the week before, it was impossible to enjoy myself. As you can imagine, I never stayed at any one place very long.
One of the first things I would do when applying for one of these glorious positions was to take a good look at the facility, be it a store or whatever. I would then ask myself, “Is this where I want to come to every day?”. The answer was always no. But since I was still stuck in a consumer lifestyle, and most always in debt, I signed on the dotted line, and became another worker bee. It was a horrendous waste of life and something that I have regretted to this day. I was too stupid, or scared, or indoctrinated to get out of the hive.
For most people, at least from what I can deduce after listening to many of them, they are miserable at whatever they are doing. While the money may be good, they are unhappy because the work that they do is unfulfilling, tedious, or has no meaning. The working conditions are stressful and unhealthy. I worked 30 years in the retail trade and not one thing I ever did, not one part I sold, not one customer I helped, could be recalled. At the time, the sale was everything. The inventory was vital and must be accurate. The cash drawers must balance out. All totally meaningless. I’m not saying I’m doing any better now but at least I got a book out, a few apps, and nice following here on the blog. And judging from some of the comments and emails I get, you people are listening. But before all this, nothing. I might just as well had been in prison for 30 years. The results would have been the same.
I try not to think about too much because I don’t like to dwell on the past, but by Darwin, if I had those 30 years back again, look out. The wisdom of experience I guess. So while I can’t get that time back, I can look to the future with clearer vision now and I can maybe pass on those experiences to some of you readers out there who are younger and still have a long road ahead. So let me start with a disclaimer:
If you are raising a family, you know, those kid thingies, or trying to pay off debts, or have some sort of plan to establish a nice little future for yourself, then keep doing what you are doing. Or at least be very careful before making any changes. Remember, it’s not just you who might be affected. Your kids deserve a decent chance so you must do whatever is necessary to give them said chance. Teach them well in the ways of minimalism and alternative lifestyles, but don’t hurt their chances by giving up the means to get them there. Once they are grown up and out the door, then have at it.
Now, for the rest of you. If you take my advice you do so at your own risk. The consequences will be your own doing. So think carefully.
If you are miserable with your job, what is preventing you from doing something else? Why waste your time being unhappy? Is it the money? The supposed benefits? Are you living a lifestyle that requires that which you must make? Or can you downsize? Can you get by with less? Are you feeling restless? Adventurous? Are you feeling lucky, punk? Well, are you?
What is stopping you from acting on your life dreams? Assuming your life dreams don’t involve wizardry or flying under your own power? I mean dreams. Did you have a yearning to travel some foreign land? Does the idea of starting up your own business sound like something you are willing to do? I got such an email recently, in which a corporate type was ready to shuck it all, start up a paddle board business and move to Central America and code apps. I replied as you may well guess. Go for it!
Why in the hell would anybody want to spend the next 30 or so years doing something that they don’t like? Don’t be stupid like me and continue to make bad decisions like buying stuff you don’t need nor can’t afford. Running up debt will only add to the misery. There is a whole planet full of opportunities and dreams out there to discover and explore and it don’t take a damn mortgage nor a credit card balance to experience it. Imagine being able to just pack up and leave for warmer climes, when the first winds of winter blow in. Or taking the time to learn a new skill, simply because you want to, not because you have too.
Imagine doing something you enjoy where you can laugh, and not be punished.
It’s all out there for the taking. You just need to do the taking. The corporate worker bee lifestyle may well fit some and for many, a minimal lifestyle of travel, adventure, risk, and reward is not within their abilities. They fear failure. Failure is not to be feared. It’s to be learned from, and trust me, you will fail, many times. So what. Would you rather fail at an attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail, or just sit in your cubicle and dream about it? Do you want to try your hand at starting up a business from scratch and see where it leads? Or come back to work next week and do your corporate duty?
The dreams are there. Seek them out. Your life will be more better for the experience.
Everyone should be able to laugh at work. Then maybe it wouldn’t be work.