More Notes On Wage-Slavery

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I often wonder how people can stay at menial jobs for a really long time. I suppose with some that maybe it’s the only gig, geographic-wise, they can get. It can be tough not having a car to get to other jobs that might be a bit more rewarding. That has sometimes stopped me from even applying for some jobs that seemed more interesting that the one I was working at the time.

The economic climate could be a factor, too. If there’s not that many jobs and they’re all about the same as the one you’re doing and for less money, then that’s a good reason to stay, it seems to me.

Me? Well, I don’t like to stay at any job for too long. I suppose I should qualify that statement by saying that a few times, I did want to stay longer, but circumstances forced me to either quit or be shown the door. The first few ‘real’ jobs I had as a teenager didn’t last more than a few months. I reckon that most companies view teenagers as a source of cheap labour and don’t expect them to stick around long. Having said that, a few people I knew in high school stayed on at their jobs even after graduating (obviously the ones that didn’t decide to go to college/uni).

I tend to get bored with repetitive tasks as well. There’s only so many e-mails I can answer on the same topics and so many times I can give the same answers on the phone before my brain starts to go numb. Some people can deal with that for years and years – it really boggles my mind. I suspect for them that it’s easier to do that than to try and do something else – I can see the appeal of a rut. It becomes a cushion after a while, nice and comfortable.

Of course, everyone wants to move up in the food chain. The problem with a lot of places, I’ve come to notice, is that the middle managers stay on for years and years as well – and why not? They don’t have to do much of the grunt work anymore and they get to wield a tiny bit of ‘power’. The same for the senior managers. Retail shops can be different, because of a more rapid turn-over. But then the stakes are higher for middle-managers and a lot more chances to get the boot – if sales are down, or whatever arbitrary reasons the honchos have for getting rid of people. I was offered a middle-management job in a chain record-store once. I turned it down, on seeing what had happened to my predecesor. She was canned over a common mistake – just like that…gone. I reckoned it wasn’t long before that happened to me.

I’m not big on office politics either and I usually try my best to stay out of them. Managers will always have their favourites and because I don’t go out of my way to schmooze or stroke egos, I’m not considered a favourite. It does make me laugh, the way some of the grunts will attempt to get in with the boss. I suppose, in a sense, they’re smarter than I am. They get judged favourably and if, for some reason, they get told off – it’s usually in a kind of back-slappy way. I once worked in an architecture firm where the three partners couldn’t stand each other. Imagine trying to negotiate that minefield! Every day it was a contest to see whom you were being disloyal to, just by speaking to one of them.

Working in retail is a challenge, as anyone who’s done it knows. Dealing with John and Jane Q. Public on a daily basis can shred anyone’s nerves and sometimes honestly cause you to lose your will to live. Most of the time it can be O.K., but then you hear the dreaded phrase “I want to talk to your manager” and your day turns to shit. Now, in some cases, I can agree that the person may have a legitimate greivance – but often, I think it’s over-used and is just a way of feeling superior to the poor schmo working at the shop. I myself have never uttered that phrase, even when I wasn’t getting great service. Why? Well, I’ve been that poor schmo and you don’t know what kind of a day they’re having. Because someone isn’t doing cartwheels and treating you like you’re the most fascinating person they’ve ever met, doesn’t mean you’re getting poor customer service. Those people make shit money, they put up with bullshit from snooty types every day, they have to abide by idiotic decisions from head office and they’re constantly told they have to be nicer and nicer and more pleasant all the time. If someone’s out and out rude from the start, I’m willing to agree – but if someone’s not smiling the entire time they’re helping you, I don’t think that warrants getting a manager involved.

Ah well – I’m leaving my current job soon. Out into the murky waters of rejection notices and interviews. Wage-slavery never sleeps.

This is usually how I feel at work

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One response »

  1. Interesting post, my friend which certainly gave me food for thought about a number of things. As far as work goes, my own experience has generally been one of high expectations quickly dashed on the rocks of reality and cynicism (mine and the employers). I used to say I would never stay in a job for more than three years and for a long time I stuck to this rule but I have now worked for the same lot (albeit I actually had new employers a few years ago when they took over the contract but nothing else changed) for eighteen years! The thing is, It’s not as if I even like working for them – they are utter shits and the pay is terrible but the rut seems now nigh-on impossible to climb out of and I’m near to getting the sack anyway due to my high sickness levels these past few years. I would go as far as to say I actively hate my employers but, ironically, I like what I do and think it is valuable – if only the powers that be would just fuck off and leave me alone to get on with it. Fact is, 90% of all bosses everywhere are both twats and tosspots – this why they are bosses. Good luck withe the job hunting and I tend to agree with you about not giving people who work in retail too hard a time – I did it over the Christmas period once and it certainly opened my eyes!

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