Friday, September 14, 2007

Dreary Fridays and the Nature of Work

This is just a random corraling of my thoughts on a dreary Friday.

I am absolutely, drag-myself-across-the-floor and smear-on-my-makeup-with-the-heel-of-my hand tired today. Yesterday, I worked my usual day job, then picked up some extra cash in the evening by taking care of some billing for a former employer. Then I went home and read a little bit of this month's Glamour. I tried to crash out, but just couldn't sleep. It's been a stressful and uncertain week, as I am most likely changing jobs yet again. Too much uncertainty and not enough control can make me headachy and weepy. Neither of those things are conducive to a good night's rest.

What kept me up last night was thoughts about work. (Note: this is far healthier than the time I stayed up all night ruminating on the nature of barn-raisings.) I don't know if it's because I'm in Washington, the nexus of unholy ambition, but it seems like this town has a bizarre relationship with work. The point of having a job is to provide yourself and your loved ones with food and shelter. If you can find something you enjoy, that pays you well, that's terrific. But in the end you're just putting food on the table like everyone else. Lions hunt, beavers fish, I code invoices.

I don't know when the notions of work and survival became so disparate. Is it because my personal version of Washington has gotten too cushy? Never once have I heard a friend describe a job as an avenue to paying rent. Instead it's usually about personal fulfillment, the jerk boss, and the meaning of life. And in job searches over the years, I have never once heard a potential employer show concern about paying a living wage. Instead the invisible hand of the market is supposed to ascertain my relationship comparative to the price of milk.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm weird for not caring about a career. I stay on task, I turn out good work, I'm smart and capable and very easy to get along with. I'm just not ambitious. I have no urge to be President (I can't be, anyway) or a CEO. I have virtually no use for money beyond buying the basics. If I could settle into a nice administrative job with good benefits, sane hours and a decent wage, I would cheerfully stay for years. Is that so horrible?

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