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FROM THE INDO-
BY ADAM WAJNBERG
April 18, 2003
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[Part One of this story can be found here.]
I was working much harder than I would at a 40 hour
a week job, and I was probably earning less money overall, but I loved
it. My typical day would start at 6:30. I'd walk to my bakery job
and open the store by 7. I'd work until 4 pm, making coffee, making
sandwiches, talking to customers, shooting the shit with Roland, the
comically German baker (He vas frum Bavahria! Ja!) and generally having
a good time. Then I'd head around the block to the school where I
worked as a youth leader. I would play kickball and help kids with
math homework for an hour and a half, then I'd head home to scrub
toilets still warm from the nervous ambience of crack addicts.
Then I'd head to a friend's room for a couple of hours
with 4 or 5 other people, where we ate pizza and smoked homegrown
pot and watched cartoons on his computer. I was doing some variety
of these activities 7 days a week, and all of them on 2 or 3 days
during the week. This went on for 3 months. I got laid, I lost some
weight, I read more. It was as close as I'll probably ever get to
a University experience. Hell, I even went to synagogue more during
Then I decided to fuck it up. First, I quit my job at
the bakery, deciding it didn't pay enough. Then I stopped hanging
out with my friends, because they were mostly stoners who watched
a lot of cartoons. The job as a counselor finished because school
was done for the year. I got another job at a call centre, this one
an hour's commute from the University District. I quit the janitorial
job, and as I was making more money and didn't want to actually pay
for a shitty little room so far away from where I was working, I eventually
moved out, heading for the suburbs.
Luckily, the place I moved into was great. I was sharing
a huge split level with 4 other guys. Ping Pong table, pool table,
punching bag, sauna, big backyard, huge trampoline
it was the
type of place you may have designed as an 8 year old, only without
Unfortunately, it was deep in the suburbs. Some of the
streets didn't even have sidewalks. There was a mall, but no University
Avenue, there were no libraries for miles, the buses were few and
far between, and everything bar the supermarket closed at 8pm. What's
more, my job was as sterile as they come, taking orders for an upscale
fashion distributor. One time I yawned so hard at work I split the
corner of my mouth.
I was making a little more money and working fewer hours,
and my roommates were fantastic, but I was depressed. I wasn't meeting
women any more, I wasn't getting high and watching cartoons and talking
politics and religion in between slices of pizza anymore. Eventually,
I lost my job (redundancies after 9/11) and moved back to Australia,
where I promptly got a job working in
a call centre.
For the past year and a bit, I've been working technical
support for a major ISP. My job involved talking to ignorant, angry
customers and solving complex problems like plugging a phone line
into a modem instead of a LAN card. This is while getting fucked over
by a company that pays very little for a very stressful job. I quit
the job recently, and as I stated at the top of the article, this
is getting to be a habit.
What I have gained now, five and a half years after
finishing high school? Well, I've gained 5 and a half years. I've
incurred some debt. I've lost a little hai- I mean, I've gained a
little baldness. The most valuable thing I've gained is a vague understanding
of why I, and why so many people, hate working.
There are three types of jobs in this world. There are
the jobs you do when you care very little for the work, and don't
see any future in it. You do it for a paycheck and the tiny freedoms
a paycheck can provide. You don't hate the work, you don't love the
work. You just do it.
There are jobs you do where you don't work at all --
you do stuff you'd be happy to do for free. You may not get paid much,
or at all, or you may get paid very well, but in the end what matters
is you're happy with the work you're doing. You like the work and
in some cases, you build your life around that work.
Then there are the jobs where you earn just enough money
to not quit. You dislike the work and the people you work for. Sometimes
these jobs are particularly bad because they're somewhat comfortable.
You can easily do them, you just wish you didn't have to. They offer
promise of a career, and that offer is available to you provided you
put in the effort, but you cannot muster up the effort because you
just don't care and you don't want that career.
I've worked all three, and I will say this: avoid the
third one if you can. Strive for number 2 and do number 1 in the meantime.
When you end up taking door number 3, you start looking at your time
off work as an escape to get away from work, and you settle for boring
shit like watching television. It seems like common knowledge, but
how many people do you know who hate their job? A lot of people look
at it like this: "Well, I want to save money and buy shiny things,
so I better work this higher-paying job even though I'd rather spend
that time licking my own balls".
Here's my counter to that -- say you're working 3 jobs
you really enjoy, that take up most of your time. All up, they pay
$400 a week and take 65 hours of your time. Meanwhile, that 40 hour
a week job you detest pays $490 a week. In the extra 25 hours you
will find you have no problems wasting that extra $90 on useless garbage
or gambling or cheap thrills. Meanwhile, Mr. Works Shitty But Fun
Jobs all the time is having a blast, accumulating less garbage and
spending less of the money he earns because he simply ain't got the
time to do so.
So that's my advice. Strive to do something that you
want to do, and that can support you, but until you get your dream
job, don't compromise happiness for slightly more security.
Unless you got kids. If that's the case, get back to
work, chumley. I ain't paying you to goldbrick.
Adam Wajnberg is an unemployed rent whore with a heart