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CHANGING PHILOSOPHY OF WORK – PART ONE

A few months ago, I read an article on slate.com that discussed the nature of work in the United States of America. While slate is nothing but a liberal rag, the article still took my breath away. So much so that I made doubly sure that I wasn’t reading something on “The Onion.”

The article began by indicating that elitists/successful people advocated the “do what you love mantra” often encouraging young people, and everyone for that matter, do take something that you love to do and turn it into a career. Slate went on to indicate that not every American worker can do what he or she loves. Some are stuck in jobs they hate because they obviously need to earn money so they can provide for their needs. As such, DWYL divides the labor force into two distinct groups, the privileged, who are able to do what they love for a living, and the un-privileged who are relegated to those menial, repetitive jobs that tend to pay a low wage.

The article literally trashed the traditional American work ethic, indicating that it was grossly unfair that some Americans have well-paying prestigious jobs while other Americans have jobs that are not so great. Do what you love disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign of socioeconomic class. The author also appeared to be advocating the distribution of work so that all Americans would be able to have a rewarding job and limit the time they would have to such loathsome tasks as sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms, washing windows, pulling the feathers out of dead chickens, etc.

As I’ve said many times, we don’t live in a perfect world and won’t live in a perfect world until Jesus returns and sets up his 1000 year kingdom on earth. So until then there are going to be bad jobs that need to be done, and many of them don’t pay well.

Singer-Song Writer, Mac McAnally, who I’m honored to call my friend, wrote a song entitled, “It’s my Job,” a little feel-good tune with which Mac ends most of his concerts. In addition to being recorded by Mac, the song has also been recorded by Jimmy Buffett. In introducing the song, Mac says that this song is about taking pride in what you do for a living, no matter what it is. Even if you have a job that sucks, take pride and do your best, because that’s the quickest way to a job that sucks less.

For my first job, I filed cards in alphabetical order, removing duplicates, at my Mom’s office. I was paid at the rate of $1.00 per hour and I didn’t have to pay any taxes on it because it was drawn from petty cash. Then, during my senior year in college, I worked as a receptionist, answering the phone and doing light typing, at my Aunt’s office in Tuscaloosa. For this job, I wasn’t paid anything, I just wanted the experience. I also typed term papers while I was in college. This was in the olden days before PCs and Microsoft Word. I’ve never had to wait on tables, clean toilets, or do factory work. I do consider myself blessed and thank God for the many blessings that he has bestowed upon me.

I’ve had many conversations where previous jobs, particularly first jobs, were discussed. With the men, it seems as though they were competing with each other to see who had the worst job; kind of a masculine badge of honor. A former boss who was from west Texas would never tell us what his first job was because it wasn’t exactly on the up and up. I’ve also known of parents who pulled strings to get their little darling the worst kind of job possible so he, or she, would get up off their rear ends and go to college.

Work is a good thing and like Mac says, doing your best at a job that sucks is a way to a job that sucks less. And for nearly all of us, our first job is not the job that we will have for the rest of our lives. Hopefully, you’ll trade that boom and mop in for something else that is more rewarding and pays better.

But what about those people who don’t have an education or have a disability, reply the liberals? Why do some folks get the corner office and some folks are relegated to cleaning that corner office with no hope of ever having a better job. That’s not fair; we should have income equality and job equality. When I was in my twenties, I worked for an insurance company with a young lady, who was a file clerk. She wasn’t smart and she came from a poor family. Being a file clerk was probably the best job that she could get. She drove an old “beat up” car, was divorced with one daughter, and lived with her parents. Yes, this was sad situation, but what was I or anybody else supposed to do? I drove a nice car, wore nice clothes, and had a good job. Was I supposed to give up all that I had worked for just because someone else was less fortunate? Was I supposed to go home and cry myself to sleep at night because there were folks less fortunate than me?

Liberals would probably say yes, and our current president would probably say, “that college education you have, you didn’t get that, somebody else had to help you. Liberals also love to tell you that a sad situation is your fault because you’re not willing to pay more in taxes. Instead, you go out to eat at nice restaurants, drive a nice car, and wear nice clothes. If I took the money that I spent on niceties and paid it in taxes, do I think the file clerk’s situation would change? Of course not!

Do I love what I do, working on my business and writing? Yes. Do I love my second job as a contract software developer for a large financial institution? No. But it brings in a little money while I’m working toward making something that I love to do work for me. I worked fulltime as a software developer for thirteen years and for most of those years, I did love it most of the time. But now, I’ve fallen out of love with it. Did I love the jobs that I had before becoming a software developer? Sometimes, but not always.

In other words, if I’m able to pull all of this together and earn a good income, I will be doing something I love and it won’t seem like work. If I have to go back to developing software full time, I guess I’ll grit my teeth and bear it, knowing I do need that paycheck.

There’s an old saying that goes like this: “To find a handsome prince, you have to kiss a lot of toads.” Well, I’ve done a lot of kissing in my career and it’s taken me a very long time to reach the point where I have the means to go out on my own and do something that I’ve always wanted to do.

Liberals seem to be into total instant gratification and think that hard work and perseverance shouldn’t be necessary in order to achieve that total gratification, if total gratification even exists. Is it possible to get that first job out of school and keep it until you retire and always love it? Yes, it does happen on occasions, but it’s rare.

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