Nine to Five Follies

I wrote this back while I was in school, anticipating the portion of life I'm now enjoying. Interesting read.


I have recently been rethinking life in general and careers in particular. Here I am, going to school, assuming automatically that a job will fall into my lap upon graduation, if I so choose to work rather than go for a higher degree. What kind of job do I want? I have never been one of those who looks forward to the wonders of office life: nine to five hours; clocking in; locked in a cubicle, perhaps; never seeing the sun; having a boss lord over and scrutinize my every move. This is not my idea of an ideal job.

At the same time, I'm not endorsing the low-skill, non-office jobs. They aren't bad, nor are the people in those jobs. It's just not for me. I have worked all sorts of low-skilled jobs, from having a paper route, working in a restaurant, a grocery store, a hardware store, a fish processing plant, a cafeteria dish room, and a handy man. These jobs were ok, and they paid enough (I refuse to say they paid well), but that is not my kind of thing, either.

So is there hope for people like me? Rejecting the labor intensive jobs and the office job leaves little else, it would seem. I could start a home business, as many in my predicament have done. However, I have never fancied myself as a salesman (yes, I CAN say "man" here) or businessman.

I want to be a professional writer, but not for an office. My ideal would be to set my own hours as a freelance writer. Sure, the money is lousy unless I make a big enough name for myself, but isn't it better to do something you love rather than be miserable and earn tons of money. For the record, I am also studying to be a psychologist, some sort of counselor. I believe I have the talent for helping others in that way and would be able to work by appointments.

My career choice is secondary to my point, though. I am against the eight to four or nine to five work day. It definitely has its place, I'll be the first to admit. So many people have lived through that torture since modern society established that barbaric custom (ok, working in the fields isn't my cup of tea, either). But it isn't healthy. Sitting all day, never seeing the sun (or the clouds or the fog or the snow, or whatever), not getting any exercise can't be healthy. We throw our money at health clubs and diet foods and hope they will make us live longer lives. Plus, so much of the day is stolen by these modern sweat shops, we as a society have little time for important things like art and family and living life.

Yes, the need for work (I don't mean jobs, but actual work) is important. I understand. But in an ideal world, shouldn't there be some flexibility in the way we work? The oppressive boss (not all of them are, but enough to give the whole lot a bad name) could lighten up a little. The hours could be broken up a little. Get as much done as you want, when you want, as long as you meet certain deadlines. I could think of a dozen ways to make jobs nicer (I mean the "regular" jobs that people have).

Ah, Capitalism! We are all drones in your great network of productivity. "Produce or you are worthless!" Ah, Capitalism! You turn us greedy and proud. You convert everything to monetary worth. We must produce and consume to keep the economy going, because the world is made of money.

My "improvements" on working conditions will never happen. It would never be practical or sound business. However, I can be grateful I'm not a serf in fuedal Europe or an underpaid worker in a Nike factory in Korea today. Guess Capitalism isn't all bad. Excuse me as I enjoy my CD's and computer and telephone and nice clothes.

Thank you for listening.

© Matthew Rutherford 1998

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