Work as a Virtue?

February 8, 2013

I will never regain the hours I have spent working in the retail and service fields. 

Certainly I have been fortunate to have a job and to be paid for my labor, to be able to pay for my education (and take out those loans), to pay rent and insurance, etc. I don’t denigrate that;  but for a very long time now I’ve wanted to write something that directly addresses the mistaken notion that work in and of itself is always a virtue or good. Something that addresses the plight of all those stuck in soul-crushing work–work that requires they spend 3/4 of their waking hours doing difficult, unrewarding, disrespected work, often surrounded by hostile and unappreciative customers and even coworkers. There are very few things that can hurt a soul and rob a person of their creative energies and dreams in quite the same way that a really bad job can. String together a series of those jobs and the cumulative weight can be pretty overwhelming.

So yes, this post is a bit of a downer and it may sound a bit too much like personal ranting compared to what I usually attempt with this blog. Perhaps the seeds of this will someday produce more weighty, intellectual fruit–because the ideas are certainly here from which to address larger concepts of economics, personal freedoms, societal structures, poverty, classism, education, etc. 

The timing for this brief and scattered prolegomena to such a topic is a result of–(a) personally being in the midst of a second year in another such profession myself while juggling reentry into post-grad studies to finally wrap up my own education and (hopefully) belatedly enter my chosen field, the job made extra-disheartening by a 2-year break from an otherwise decade full of similar vocations; (b) the recent Applebees PR nightmare and the wealth of news and analysis prompted by it; and (c) conversations with friends from foreign countries who view the retail/service field in the US as horrid and peculiar, different from anything they had experienced in their own countries.

So I will leave this first post of a series sparse and whiny for now. Vent session over, deeper discussion to follow.


One Response to “Work as a Virtue?”

  1. Sadly, this is the only work I have ever known. It can leave one bitter and demoralized. It’s mind numbing and leads to loss of creativity. Happy there is light at the end of your tunnel.

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