toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

February 11, 2010

brilliant nonchalence

Taylor is a high flying advertising executive who started her working life as a specialist teacher. She possesses all the attributes that one would imagine a successful career woman would not have - she is unconventional, unreliable, outspoken and sometimes downright lazy - yet she is brilliant at her work and in the advertising game she can get away with it.

At 34, it’s unusual, too, that Taylor is still living at home with her parents and has never been married or partnered.

"I’m the baby of the family, that’s why!" laughs Taylor.

Every now and again surveys are carried out to determine job satisfaction, and Taylor is always amazed to read that more people actually love their jobs than hate them.

"How could this be?" asks Taylor. "What sort of person could love the daily grind? Do they have stickers on their cars that say ‘I'd rather be working’? My car sticker says ‘I’d rather be sailing’ and that’s exactly how I feel."

Every now and again, too, surveys are carried out to determine how many people are in permanent and secure as opposed to impermanent and insecure employment and since there are always more people in the former group she supposes that they comprise the people who love their jobs.

"That strikes me as strange," says Taylor, "because the jobs that I hated most were the permanent jobs - the boring, back-stabbing, petty-minded jobs that seemed exciting at first yet year after year of doing the same old thing drove me bonkers."

"Specialist teaching, for instance, would have to be the most mind-numbing job going if it were not for a constant stream of new students, but then even the kids get to you in the end and you catch yourself remembering more and more that fantastic summer job you once took at the beach at a time when money and security had no value to you whatsoever."

"It’s possible," muses Taylor, "that all the satisfied workers who responded to those surveys do work at the beach."

"More likely, though, the satisfied workers are those engaged in jobs that had meaning for them. They were doing work that they would do at home as a hobby, and probably still do."

"They are passionate about their work. They would do it for free."

Into this category Taylor feels would fall the tech people and the stock-market people and the scientists and anybody in the arts - and zookeepers!

"Nobody could be more obsessed about their work than those guys!" laughs Taylor.

"But very few people are employed in meaningful jobs," explains Taylor, "which means that if the satisfied workers are not blatantly lying about loving their work then some of them could be guilty of compensating for a lack of real status and real joy."

Who would lie about loving their jobs?

"Well," explains Taylor, "just about anybody who can't face up to the fact that their job is really not as fulfilling as they would like it to be."

"We all say ‘fine’ when people ask us how we are, even if we feel lousy. And the same thing goes when we're asked about our marriage or relationship, even if we are on the verge of breaking up. We lie because we cannot even tell the truth to ourselves."

"We've all been told to fake it until you make it," laughs Taylor, "and if we keep on telling ourselves what a wonderful job we have, and how much we love it, we might just believe it one day."

So, what's wrong with faking it?

"Absolutely nothing," says Taylor. "It's a great job survival trick for people who can’t face the fact that their jobs are lousy."

"I’m not going to remove that ‘I'd rather be sailing’ sticker on my car," says Taylor, "because I’d never admit that I love my job."

"It’s a far better job that most people have, but I don’t love it. The reason I’m working -- and have scratched and backstabbed my way up to the postion I'm in now -- is to stash away as much money as I can so that one day I can do what I really want to do - go back to sitting on a beach. There's no way I'd want to be self-employed -- it's far easier to make big money being a careerist!"

Taylor believes that even the guys who truly love their work will, if given a nudge, admit that they don't like the constraints they have to work within. They'd rather work their own hours, in a different environment, or under their own steam.

"Let's face it," says Taylor. "Work is work. We go out and sell ourselves to the highest bidder and put in enough hours to earn a living."

"We need to work to survive, and it was never intended to be a pleasure."

"In fact," says Taylor, "it was not so very long ago that only the lower classes had to work. The upper classes had their hobbies and clubs and associations and performed good or glorious deeds that were recorded in history."

"To be tied to a job, therefore, labels you as a plebeian - and to love your job labels you as a fool."

"I am neither a plebeian nor a fool," laughs Taylor. "I am special."

"My work in the advertising industry is recorded in history," explains Taylor, "and while it is not exactly glorious it is good."

"I am not tied to my job - I can leave whenever I like. I don’t have to pretend I love my job, I do it because I want to live the good life one day."

"There's not much satisfaction in hoping to come back as a filthy rich kid in my next life," says Taylor, "so the key to being a successful careerist femme is not necessarily to love your job but to be so brilliant at it that you can get away with anything."

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