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I hate my job

© March 2009 Anthony Lawrence

My UPS driver got here early today. I was surprised because I expected that the big snowstorm would make him late, so I asked him about it. He laughed and said he'd be late enough getting other places. He said a lot of drivers weren't available today and that he was loaded up with other people's routes - he didn't expect to finish before midnight.

I cautioned him to take his time and drive safely. He laughed again.

"We got a lecture on that this morning. Bad weather, drive carefully, be safe.."

By the way his voice trailed off I knew what was left out. "But make sure everything gets done on time?", I suggested.

He shook his head in agreement. "That's about it, yes."

"And your boss gets his bonus, right?"

He hesitated a minute. "You know, I used to really like this job. But since they put in the computers, they are on us every minute. Of course it's all about being competitive; I understand that. But I hate getting up in the morning - I have 24 years till retirement and I'm thinking about it already!"

I didn't want to hold him up. Our brief conversation probably exceeded the computers idea of how much time this delivery would take - he had a hard enough day ahead of him without risking "wasting time". I wished him good luck and turned to take my package into the house.

Yeah, I know it's all about being competitive. FedEx is out there beating up its drivers to cut their costs too. UPS can't afford not to be ruthless and uncompassionate about its human workers. Hey, they are lucky to have jobs, right? Like Bill Gates says, Life is not fair; get used to it.

Fine. This is the world we live in. A world where far too many people get up every morning hating their life. A world where the demands of the corporation never stop, where the workers know that nobody cares if they are over worked, stressed and full of despair.

I don't have an answer for this. Sure, some people can stand up and go out on their own. Unfortunately. most probably cannot. They are stuck, looking at decades of getting up in the morning to head off to a job they hate. It's little consolation that their bosses are likely under the same pressure - the spreadsheets must show profits or heads will roll. Push the workers harder because, hey, life's not fair, they are lucky to have jobs. Do more with less. Suck it up. Work harder. Work longer. Be a faceless drone and no, we do not care about your smoldering anger.

That's our world. Ain't it grand?

And when our driver does finally get home, maybe he'll put on the TV for a minute to wind down before he goes to bed. If he has kids, he missed seeing them. His wife may be sound asleep by now too - she probably has her own miserable job tomorrow morning.

Maybe he'll catch that Cadillac Escalade ad. You know, the one with the smug looking woman blasting through brightly lit tunnels? He'd like to imagine sitting in those leather seats, but he probably knows he never will. No, that's for the rich: the people who drive the economic engine that demands so much from him. They can buy the Escalades, the Lexus LX's.

Tonight's news will surely mention another $30 billion being handed over to AIG. His kids will be paying taxes for that. The big shots who work for AIG and caused this mess? Oh, they still have their fancy cars and mansions, he can be sure of that.

But he's too tired to think about that. He has to get some sleep so that he can deliver more packages tomorrow. He may hate his job, but what can you do. Life's not fair. He's lucky to have a job, right?

It's a grand world, isn't it?

Over reaction

I'm afraid that simmering resentment and anger may boil over someday soon. I think the current greed driven society will reverse itself. Unfortunately, when things like this reverse, there's risk of societal upheaval: riots, political insurrection. Even if the reversal is relatively calm, there is danger of swinging too far in the other direction. As much as I may detest living in a callous and uncaring society like we have now, I certainly wouldn't want to live where everyone is dragged down to the lowest common denominator, where anything that is seen as having "more" is viewed with suspicion, where an attempt to better your lot is seen as immoral.

I think those who are driving the Caddies now need to take heed. If they don't loosen up, if they keep demanding and taking, flaunting their wealth while driving the common man deeper into despair, they are fertilizing the seeds of discontent.

I don't think many people understand this. I wish more would.

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Tue Mar 3 12:34:40 2009: 5586   BrettLegree

I figured you were thinking along these lines when you commented at my place yesterday, because I've had the same thoughts.

Much as I like stories like Fight Club, I certainly don't want to see things disintegrate into chaos - yet I almost expect to see some of it, in spite of being optimistic about the future. I think that your country's government is also anticipating this, because some troops have been trained in crowd control techniques and are stationed at home - for the first time ever, I believe.

People need to wake up, you are right, or at some point the "have nots" may just start taking things, and I don't want to get caught in the middle. I am lucky to have what I have, and I know that I have a lot more than I need - just how much do some people think they need? Most days I'm just happy to watch the sun set.

Tue Mar 3 13:36:44 2009: 5587   TonyLawrence

We're still making money and surviving. Yet I'm very, very angry. Angry that AIG executives will walk away with millions in their pockets, unpunished - even rewarded! - for their part in destroying our economy. There's Madoff's wife who claims her millions are "unrelated" to his schemes - really?

I'm angry but I still have income, still own property, still have investments. How much more angry are the people who have had their lives torn apart and have lost everything?

I want to find a silver lining. I want to find something positive to latch on to, something that will make me feel hopeful for the future. I'm not seeing it.

Tue Mar 3 14:00:13 2009: 5588   BrettLegree

I hear you, because I am upset by it as well - so now let us imagine how angry are the people who make minimum wage, having been sold a dream that if they work hard they will get all of this great stuff they see on TV, and now they see criminals - yes, criminals - ruining things, and getting away with it!

Why bother earning an honest living, some might think, when television is showing them that "crime pays"?

And if people seem angry now, just wait a few years. I like to be optimistic, but like you, I'm trying pretty hard to see it.

Tue Mar 3 14:20:55 2009: 5589   TonyLawrence

Just came across this:


Tue Mar 3 15:37:57 2009: 5591   BrettLegree

The link you posted is very interesting... the four most equal rich countries chosen do not surprise me one bit (my sister is trying to move to Norway because of the lifestyle and the society - Canada is sadly changing for the worse).

Tue Mar 3 16:04:08 2009: 5592   AparnaPasumarthi

I can totally understand what you have written. I guess it is the same everywhere -The rich get richer & the poor poorer! For a person who is struggling to find a job in this "great" economy; I can say - at least you guys have a job!!
I can also understand the resentment because of global economy and outsourcing - but being here in a place where the outsourcing is important; we are worried!
Global trouble!!! Guess "Life is not fair!!"

Tue Mar 3 16:08:55 2009: 5593   TonyLawrence

Well, I haven't had a "job" in many a year, but yes, I still have income. It's off at least 40%, maybe more.. this is going to be a very tough year.

Tue Mar 3 17:11:01 2009: 5594   BrettLegree

I do consider myself fortunate to have a job during these times - but I continue to read the "tea leaves" at work and it is imperative that I create my own income streams.

Even though it is taking me some time to figure it out and do it, I will keep going until I do - because you can't trust that your job will be there tomorrow. It only takes one pen stroke from a single greedy person high up to change that.

Wed Mar 4 16:16:03 2009: 5596   BigDumbDinosaur

"We got a lecture on that this morning. Bad weather, drive carefully, be safe.."

By the way his voice trailed off I knew what was left out. "But make sure everything gets done on time?", I suggested.

Unfortunately, that sort of corporate attitude prompts everything from cutting corners on quality to taking unnecessary chances that wind up killing and maiming people. This "I don't care how you do it...just get it done" thinking has long been a problem in the passenger transportation industry, where the triple goals of comfort, safety and speed tend to get in each other's way.

In air transport, where the pilot legally has the final say-so as to whether a flight will take off or not, constant but subtle pressure exists to launch flights in all conditions, safe or not. Here the goal, to paraphrase a former FAA director, is "asses in seats and planes in the air." It can be a deadly attitude, as the survivors of Air Florida 90 would readily attest.

So, the UPS driver's boss telling him to be careful but then exhorting him to see to it that all deliveries are made, and on time, is merely fostering a culture of carelessness and potential recklessness in the name of profits. I sympathize with the driver and all others in similar occupations. However, as Tony pointed out, life isn't fair and it is the soldiers in the trenches who end up on the wrong side of the fairness equation, not the generals who put them into those trenches. Dunno how we're going to change it.


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