Gawker yesterday ran a piece chiding this holy land’s worker-drones to — get this! — take their vacations.
Egad, good heavens to Betsy, and my stars! Honestly? People have to be told to take their vacations?
The vast majority of my adult life has been given over to the avoidance of working in a corporate cubicle environment. No doubt I’d have made piles more dough had I invested in a few button-down shirts and highly shined shoes but I probably would have pulled a Robin Williams by the time I was 40. So, in exchange for a measure of financial security I gained at least a couple of decades more life. I win.
I’ve been a freelancer for some 31 years now. That means a lot of toil at home and in libraries and coffeehouses. That and a lot of pretending I’m not home when I hear a knock at the door and the rent is two weeks late. But, thank every imaginary god in the holy heavens, I’ve pretty much avoided staff meetings, team building exercises, write-ups (you know I’d get them by the fistful, don’t you?), ambitious rivals, cut-throat competition, and two-faced colleagues.
I’d take a six-year stint in debtors prison over that any day of the week.
One winter — IIRC, it was in 2001 — I was sort of blind-dated with a big time public relations firm in what was then called the IBM Building at Wabash Avenue and the river in Chicago by a mutual friend of the proprietor’s and me. Mind you, this wasn’t some River North hipster outfit that handled, say, the Pink tour or the Donnie Darko local flack campaigns. This was an operation fitting its home in the iconic, frigid, Mies Van der Rohe hyper-geometric prism of an office block. I even forget the name of the firm. In fact, I remember nothing about it save that the boss handed me a lengthy list of appearance commandments, I was told that I spoke too loudly, and my new shoes hurt.
Straight & Narrow
I lasted less than a week at that job. I’d sit in the building lobby before work and during my lunch hours, watching workers trundle by. None of them, it seemed, cared what they looked like other than to conform to their own companies’ appearance codes. They were pasty and doughy and their faces betrayed no emotions. They’d long ago stopped even hating their jobs mainly because, I’d guess, hating their jobs might one day cause them to quit. And god forbid they couldn’t buy that new Dodge Caravan they’d been looking at the last few months. It’d been the only thing they’d lusted after since college.
I concluded that week that people who “thrived” in that environment had an ability I lacked — to deny their very humanness. They were the sexless, soulless office hordes* and they scared the bejesus out of me.
Really, I don’t know why they should have scared me. I suppose I was worried I’d be seduced by their “security,” and their benefits — things as far from my possession at that time as, say, the Terra Cotta Warriors might be. But even then I knew know matter how much I might want “security” and the option to get a broken arm set without putting myself in years-long debt would not be motivation enough to join the ranks of the *SSOH.
I’d never be pasty and doughy enough.
These are the folks, we all know now, who eat their lunches at their desks and are too skittish about their places in their respective companies to take the vacations they’re owed. They come in early and leave late. They make no waves. They ask no questions. And when the boss says we’ve all got to pull together and work harder, they know it means they’ll be working Saturdays for the foreseeable future.
They’ve basically pissed away most of the advancements labor unions sacrificed for in the century before them.
And they’re the folks the Gawker writer was addressing yesterday, the ones he called idiots. He writes:
Even though Americans say they enjoy their vacations, they also say that they worry about whether their job will get done correctly in their absence, and they worry about being seen as lazy or easily replaceable at work, and they worry that their boss is sending subtle signals that it would be better not to take time off.
The writer tells us some 41 percent of Americans don’t take all their vacation days. Let me repeat: nearly half the citizens of this great nation don’t take all the time off work they have coming to them. Calling them idiots is being charitable toward them to a saintly degree.
That job don’t love you. That job is not your friend. That job is not looking out for you. That job is a machine in which you are a cog. That job has no human feelings. That job is interested only in sucking you for every last ounce of labor that you are physically capable of producing before you pass out.
But I think the *SSOH know that already. They’d quit in a heartbeat if that Dodge Caravan wasn’t so sexy.
I Want You, Baby
Take The Ferguson Interchange
It figures Doug Storm would devote an entire hour of his Interchange program on WFHB to the goings-on in Ferguson, Missouri.
Storm hosts Jeannine Bell, a professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, and Valerie Grim, professor and chair of IU’s African-American and African Diaspora Studies department. They’re a couple of heavyweights in the fields of law and the black experience in America. The beauty of Storm’s program is it doesn’t pander to any phony-baloney notion of “balance” — say, by inviting some white rep of the system that allows caucasian cops to gun down unarmed young black men while treating armed white loons with kid gloves.
IU’s Bell & Grim
Check the podcast of Storm’s show. It’s an eye-opener, as always.
Allow me to be a nudge here for a minute.
Make sure to click on the link highlighting the words kid gloves in the above entry. Well, here: I’ll give you the link again.
It’s a list of “10 Armed White Men Who Did Not Die by the Police.”
In case you haven’t been paying attention to things these last 150 years or so, America’s cops have gently, patiently, and peaceably apprehended men and women who’ve brandished and fired off bombs, rockets, pistols, long guns and any other deadly weapon you can imagine time after time.
All the above are or were white.
Among them are people who’ve shot at citizens, police, buildings, and into the blue sky. Among them are people who actually shot people, citizens and cops alike. Among them are people who’ve stood up to the federal government and dared the authorities to apprehend them for crimes they’ve committed. Among them are people who have brought automatic weapons into crowded public places just because they could, regardless of the fear and panic they’ve caused.
The list’s author tells of a man who committed a home invasion, robbed the place, and shot the house up as he fled, shot at numerous innocent people he passed as he ran, was cornered by the cops and told to drop his weapon after taking aim at them, but replied, “No, you drop your fuckin’ gun!” The police eventually disarmed and arrested him.
The author writes:
Had he been black: Six feet under by the time he said, “No, yo-.” Burial and all.
And, of course, we know that when a black young man without a gun dares to wrestle with a cop, he can expect to get shot full of more holes than an uncut wheel of Swiss cheese.
Coroner’s Sketch Of Michael Brown’s Wounds
A number of white people in the last few days have expressed support for the Ferguson police officer who did not gently, patiently, and peaceably apprehend Michael Brown. They say he is a hero.
They hope, apparently, he can return to his job so that he might, if called upon, capture a dangerous, armed white man who has fired at innocent people and threatened police. With god’s help, the officer might capture that man alive.
Big Fella, you’ve made it on your own and that is something to be proud of, not many can do it. Busting on the hive workers, I don’t know.
David, I understand perfectly what you’re saying and, I suppose, there is a tad of clubbish superiority in my screed. Still, it’s important to me never to get swept up in the crowd. The crowd scares me. I don’t want to be crushed. That said, the world needs contrarian, cantankerous pains in the ass like me as much as it needs those who stay the course, fit in well, and subsume their individuality for the common good.
It is the “random instability” of the “non-standard” that leads to adaptation after all, yes?