the modern worker

Shiva.
12:20pm on Wednesday afternoon, and I’m right where I want to be for the rest of the day. At home, windows open, music on. Too bad I have to go back to work, that place really puts a damper on my days. I’m listening to a live version of a new Radiohead song that leaked the other day. Seems they’re back in the studio and working on long-player #7. I can’t deny that I consider them to be the most important musicians of the last 15 years, and I look forward to each of their releases with the utmost anticipation. I mean, what other outfit today could see a bootlegged live version of a single new song get a three-paragraph review? Despite my afternoon off yesterday, I still don’t feel right. I’m hoping it goes away soon, I don’t want to be sick and traveling. Yes – that’s right. I’m off for Taiwan yet again in just over a week. You know how I always dread going just before I’m supposed to go? I’m in that phase right now, I just plain don’t feel like going. Two weeks this time, ugh… I feel like I just got back from the last trip. Anyway, I am going, so I better get used to the idea.

Last night I crawled in bed a little after 11pm, and started thinking about how much I didn’t want to wake up and have to go to work the next day. Then, a sentence came to me. Then another. Soon enough, I had enough stuff to warrant me getting back up and out of bed to sit in front of the computer and write a paragraph. I finished it last night before midnight, and almost added it to yesterday’s post – but decided to keep it in case I didn’t feel like writing today. And then, here it is…

I am the modern American worker. I am the employee you hate to love. I complete all that is assigned to me. I foster relationships, work well in teams, and know my field. I will always do what is necessary to succeed. I am easy to get along with. I meet deadlines and assume responsibility. You can rely on me. Resources permitting, I will come through for you 100% of the time. I know how to prioritize. I know how to delegate. I can handle many complex tasks simultaneously without degrading the quality of my output. When you compare me to the checklist, I will meet or exceed all your criteria. Wanna know what else? I feel no sense of duty or loyalty towards my employer; only laziness and comfort keep me where I am. My interest in the company’s success extends only as deep as my desire for a continual paycheck. My work is not inspired. I do not aspire to climb ladders, keep paying me and I’ll stay here forever. I view my job as the necessary evil funding my real life. I say what you want to hear and do what you want done so that you will shut up. Every once in a while I will go above and beyond Joe Employee – but I don’t do this for the betterment of the company or for personal growth – I do this because I know those gold stars at the top of my review might earn me more money. If your goal is to see how much you can squeeze out of me without complaint, my goal is to determine the minimal amount of effort to likewise keep you complaint-free. I will always be like this. The more responsibility you pile on me, the more I’ll pretend to care – and we’ll all be happy. I will express completely insincere feelings so that you think I am one of the ones who “really cares.” I’m the modern American worker, it’s nice to meet you. You can shake my hand if you want, but I just took a piss and didn’t wash it.

I resisted touching that up from last night’s original midnight incarnation, so it’s 100% raw as-written. Looking back, it seems a little overboard and harsh – but I guess it makes its point.

I found this article fascinating. It’s long, but the author writes well and the subject is something I’m a tiny bit familiar with, working in the Indian-rich field of engineering. Once, a friend and co-worker of mine was taking vacation to head to India for his arranged marriage. He’d never even met the woman who’d be arranged for him, but had corresponded with her via phone or e-mail. He was not scared or nervous, but excited. I remember him telling me, “You should come to India for the wedding. I cannot pay for your plane ticket, but if you are able to come you will not have any other expenses. You can stay with my family, and all your food and lodging will be taken care of.” He told me he would be “honored” if I attended… and to be honest, I really considered going – it sounded like the experience of a lifetime. Too bad my pockets aren’t overflowing with money, or else I would’ve. Anyway, read the piece if you have time… good stuff.

Goodnight.


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