Saturday, August 11, 2012

# 3 Working Hard

    So, I’m driving home from work the other day, thinking about dinner and listening to a call-in
radio show. As my mind drifts back and forth, I keep hearing the caller chant, ‘I work hard for
my money, my wife works hard for her money too....!’ He must have said three times in 60
seconds. It was a frustrated, angry and almost desperate rant about having to work for his money. I
thought, poor bastard and turned off the radio. But, the words in front of his emotion stayed with
me for the few minutes I had left in my commute.  I’ve heard the expression a million times, but
never thought about its meaning. At what point do you start to work hard for your money?  Do I
work hard for my money?  I don’t know.

   ‘Work’ is about sacrifice. We give up a part of our lives to make an economic contribution to
society and  in return, we get money to support a lifestyle. Life can be complex and sometimes
personal fulfillment takes a backseat to the pressures to maintain a level of material wealth.
However, for most people the deal changer in staying at one job is the emotional reward in front
of the pay. Once you have a sense of personal fulfillment from your work the other requirements
tend to fade a bit.

    To give you an idea of the significance of having a rewarding job consider the people you see
in your neighbourhood who canvas on behalf of a charity or help out in local community centres.
These people work for free, no health benefits, no clock punching, and no money.  What drives
them?  Personal reward.  It feels good to help other people, to be part of a group working toward
the betterment of the collective good.  You might work really hard at that job, and yet feel little
to no pain.

     I have been a member of the workforce in one capacity or another since I was 14. During that
period I have had numerous jobs, both employing physical and mental effort. When I worked as a
renovation carpenter  I would be up at 5 a.m. and home by 6 p.m., dirty and physically tired. I
guess I was working hard for my money then, but I didn’t think so at the time.

     My teaching career has been low to moderate physical labour. I do lots of standing, walking,
moving, talking, lifting of textbooks, but nothing like building houses. I do get sore feet, legs,
and lower back from the standing, but those aches seem minor in comparison to other jobs I’ve
done.

     The demands created from teaching in a classroom daily are mostly to the brain and mind.
Lots of pushing and pulling on the emotions and excessive requests to mulitask. We aren’t paid
as much for what we do as what we know. Consequently, many job related maladies are the
result of mental stress. I’ve seen it many times over the course of my career, mental breakdowns,
exhaustion, twitches, frayed nerves, eating disorders, substance abuse, divorce and inability to
concentrate to name a few. It’s no place for the emotionally meek.  Thank God the survivors
are greater than the casualties!

    So, do I work really hard for my money?  Most of the time I like the stress the job hands me. I
may change my mind in a few years and conclude that I really did work hard for my money, but
I’m not there yet.  I get up everyday and travel into work for the rewards the job gives me. I have
to be reminded that it is a ‘job’ and I am a ‘worker’ in our economy.  I feel sorry for that guy I heard on the radio. It's only work if you would rather be somewhere else and he obviously had other plans.