Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Thoughts on job hunting and setting one's own destiny

I had been thinking about getting a job lately. You know, a real job. I don't have to. I make enough from my writing to keep the bills paid. But it's been three years since I've had a regular job job, and of late I've kind of missed working out of the home, being out among people. My thinking was I'd get some little, part-time job somewhere working 20 hours a week, just enough to help a little more with the bills and to get me out of the house.

After a few months of looking and a handful of interviews, I've changed my mind. I no longer want to get a job job.

Here's why: It has come to my attention that the workplace today is sheer insanity.

I look back upon my life, 20 years of working in an office, and now I realize most of that was a waste of my time. Other than some friendships I made as a journalist, I have nothing to show for it. Let me repeat, nothing. No, I do not have a pension because most companies did away with those. I used to have a 401 (k) but I had to cash in on that when I got laid off a few years ago, so that's gone. I guess someone could argue, "Well, yeah, but what about all that stuff you bought over the years?" You mean all that stuff I sold, gave away or junked because I realized I didn't need it anymore? That stuff?

I don't want to come off like some Occupy Wall Street protester, but seriously, I can't imagine ever working for anyone else again. In my opinion, unless one has children or has some possibility of special benefits looming (retirement or tenure or the like), working for someone else is bonkers.

Every damn job I saw, from high-end corporate positions down to the lowliest toilet scrubbing jobs, wanted someone with "high energy" and "available to work any and all hours" including weekends and holidays and getting no extra pay for it. No benefits. No chance of promotion. No guarantee of even having a job in a few months. Uh, yeah, when I was 20. I'm not 20 any more, not by a long shot. And no, I'm not willing to scrub your toilet at three in the morning for minimum wage.

Call me lazy. Call me a radical. Call me anti-American. I frankly don't give a shit. Selling one's soul to the company store is highly overrated and gets you nowhere in the long run but to an early grave.

Screw that. At my age, after what I've experienced in my life, I'd rather be homeless on the street than working my ass off to make someone else rich.

Never again. I'll keep writing.

My apologies to my friends who find themselves still stuck in the working world. I'm sorry you're there, but please, please, try to find something where you can set your own destiny. If that happens to be within the corporate world, so be it, but do your own thing.


Keith said...

Well said, Ty. I've been thinking along the same lines myself for months now. And while I intend to stay in academia for a while, I'll do it on my own terms. I played the tenure track game and had the standards changed almost every year; when it came time to grant tenure, the new department head refused to honor the things I'd been told five years before I had to do because that was why I was hired.

I'm staying in academia because I genuinely enjoy teaching and find it rewarding (something that wasn't rewarded in the tenure process in spite of what was stated in the written guidelines) and I enjoy research when an administrator isn't putting a gun to my head to get it done and bring in more money for the university.

In the meantime, since I'm no longer married to my job and sacrificing time (for family and my writing) in order to further the university's agenda, I'm getting a lot more writing and reading accomplished. At some point, I hope to establish enough of an income stream from writing to do that full time. When I do, I can still teach a course once in a while or be around people through volunteer work or some such.

I'm glad you've decided you're doing what you love. More power to you.

Paul R. McNamee said...

The thing that burns my ass most about working in the corporate world is worrying about my job disappearing – whether through outsourcing or people at the top not bothering to check what I do but just chopping arbitrarily based on salary alone.

Used to be that if you did your job, you didn't need to worry. My father put in 30+ years at one company. Many from the former generation did. That ship has sailed.

I earn good money – I don't say that as a brag. I say it to qualify that even with that salary, being the single breadwinner for the family, I get nervous about losing the job.

Despite the economy being where it is, this still isn't the Great Depression. Yet, I think mentally a lot of the populace are just about as nervous. And it's so strange that so many jobs can disappear in a society where there once was so much opportunity…and consistency.

Ty Johnston said...

Keith, that's the thing, if you truly enjoy what you're doing, that's great. That's where it's at.

Paul, what I find totally ludicrous is an economic system in which stocks actually rise and the powers-that-be get bonuses for LAYING PEOPLE OFF. That is beyond stupid. To some extent I can understand this when times are truly tight (as they are for a growing percentage of Main Street America), but not when things are booming (as they continue to do for Wall Street America).

And no, I'm not screaming "evil corporations!" Corporations are part of the problem, but the situation is much more complex than that. Our federal and state governments have a lot to answer for, as well. If anyone, I blame the American populace at large. We did this to ourselves by being too lazy to pay attention. Bread and circuses, indeed.

Charles Gramlich said...

If it weren't for having a family to support I wouldn't be working other than writing right now either. I do enjoy teaching and do have a retirement, so that is something, but you are so right about the pains of working for others.