There are two different kinds of workers: Those who work in order to live and then there are those who live in order to work. The first group, by far the larger, works primarily to make money with which to pay bills while the later group of people - the lucky ones - do their work with joy and passion. They don’t consider what they do for a living work, it is merely living the life and what they are driven and love to do. Money, or the lack thereof is merely a side effect. They may be artists or shoemakers, ballet teachers or stone masons but what separates them for the rest of us is their love of what they do and their desire to excel and be their personal best. These people live through their work, it defines them and it drives them to utter despair or to lofty hights of exultation and joy. Pain and joy, desire and fulfilment is what drives these lucky people.
Lucky ? Yes, I consider them lucky. For me, like for most people, work is a necessity in order to eat first and then buy all the stuff that defines our existence.
No matter what, we tend to think in terms of buying power, net worth or social standing. Our desires are mostly materialistic in nature and success is measured in how big a house we are able to afford and what kind of a car we drive. We can also excel at our jobs, we can be fabulous accountants, brilliant electricians and outstanding teachers. We can also love our work but we are not driven by it nor defined by it. For most people work is simply a means to an end. Get a better job, make more money, retire early with an adequate pension. That about sums up a successful twentieth century, modern day, western existence. It’s what all the world wants.
I mostly do the kind of work I’m told to do. Like dig a hole here and could you fix this broken thing. Work I’m good at and apparently I’m a handy man. Better handy then handsome like some Canadian comic said. But fixing stuff around the house and gardening is not really work is it ? Not like the kind of work when you sign a piece of paper at the UN that changes the lives of millions or so-called work you get awards for, like acting a jerk in a movie. I’m always amazed when I hear actors telling us what a incredible ordeal it was filming that love scene.
Klare knows a thing or two about work. She’s been a nurse for 25 years and has no time for winers and complainers. Like the overweight clerk at the government liquor store who bitched at the old woman returning empties that this was all too much work. “Isn’t it part of your job”, Klare said, her symphaties being wholly with Helen, the towns best known scrounger of empties.
Then there are the legions of paper shufflers and bureaucrats who have devised intricate webs of rules and regulations, created hurdles and obstacles and entire kafkaesque bureaucracies in order to regulate the people, take their money from them and keep tabs on their movements, their state of health, their incomes and properties. Every downtown in in the world is defined by its office towers populated and staffed by people with multiple electronic leashes, in touch with others like them in their concrete beehive, buzzing and collecting honey. They scurry to and from suburbia in their compact cars or are disgorged by the subways and busses in their suits, ties flapping in the breeze, brief cases swinging at their sides. I don’t know what they do or what they know. They’re workers, doing a job, collecting a pay check, paying taxes.
The only kind of work I’m familiar with is the digging, hammering, pulling, lifting and shoving kind of activity, the kind where you see a result at the end of a day. Sometimes I get to measure something, figure out what to get and use in order to do the job but mostly it is work from the neck down, paid by the hour. As long as the arms, legs and hands function properly, a job is pretty well assured. Woe if the body fails or gets hurt. All the thinking and braining in the world wont replace the shovel or the hammer.
I’ve tried other kinds of work. I wanted to be in business for myself and have other people do the dirty work and make me money. I tried a restaurant, much to Klare’s chagrin. I had a good time. Too good a time according to Klare who also did my books in her spare time. “You’re not making any money, you’re never home and you’ve turned into a sleep deprived alcoholic. What kind of life is that ?”
Apparently none worth sharing. The ultimatum was clear and I had my choice: Klare or the restaurant. I stuck with my wife and swapped businesses. I became a dog walker. It kept me busy, outdoors and cured my alcohol problem. My career ended when Luke, the weimoraner, broke poodle Tammy’s back with one swift snap of his jaw. I yanked Tammy’s leash like I was hauling in a sword fish and that kind of finished what Luke started. It was one of the hardest moments in my working life when I tried to explain to the hysteric owner of Tammy what exactly happened.
I’m back at work doing odd jobs for people. Mostly for woman who don’t have a handy ( or a handsome) man around the house. I like it. Some times I get paid, sometimes I come home with a basket of fruit or vegetables instead of money. That’s fine. I’m past the ambition of trying to get rich from working. Work apparently is not the way to prosperity.
Of course we all know that the amount of money we make is inversely proportional to the amount of work we do. I’ve found that to be true. The less one does the more one can charge. Who does more valuable work: The ditch digger or the stock broker, the waitress or the realtor the nurse or the car sales man, the teacher or the actor ?
According to Klare it doesn’t matter what kind of work anybody does as long as they try to do their best and don’t hurt anybody. I personally opt for the low impact kind of work, the kind of job that is sealed by a hand shake and a pint. Cheers.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Bruno Huber.
Published on e-Stories.org on 07.07.2006.