On Work

Okay, kids! Let’s talk about work.

Many people have already told you that you can do anything you set your mind to so long as you work hard at it. While this is completely untrue, it is important for you to believe it. However, when bandying this platitude about, what most people don’t tend to think about is: “What is work?”

This is not a simple question. How you choose to define the word makes all the difference in the world.

To be successful, one has to stop regarding work as being the expenditure of time and energy. It isn’t.

As to your time: if you sit staring at your phone in front of an open textbook for four hours, you haven’t studied. This should be obvious. The faster you lose the childish notion that the appearance of work is as good as the real thing, the quicker you will start to achieve your goals. When you get out into the world, your boss and coworkers are not substitutions for your parents. They have no reason to keep you around other than your output of real work. This is not an economy for slackers.

As to your energy: this is more in regards to your own personal goals. Once we’ve figured out not to waste our time, a lot of people make the mistake of believing that expending a lot of energy is working hard. This is the mentality of a wage slave. “Boss told me to move this pile of heavy shit over there and it took me eight hours and was really hard. Boy I did a lot of work today!” This is fine if earning a wage and getting physically strong is your personal goal at that point of your life. If that’s your outlook, then you did do a lot of good work. However, if your goal is to write a screenplay, and you go home too tired to do shit except eat dinner, have a wank, and go to bed, then you didn’t do shit. When your energy output is running counter to your goals, it’s time to change one of them.

Work ought to be viewed as productive output in pursuit of a clearly defined goal. This is not to say that you won’t have to take some shitty job to pay the bills. But even when we do get stuck doing this, how we approach this work means the world. Are you just putting your time in like a pylon, or are you learning new skills? If you have to clean toilets, then at very least learn the best way to do that. Cultivating a work ethic, learning people skills and how businesses work from the ground up, and impressing people that might offer you a slightly less shitty job: these are all admirable work goals in a shitty job.

Developing skills and good habits is never a waste of energy. Wherever you wind up, just make sure you aren’t spinning your wheels; or, worse yet, sitting idling in a garage of your own making.

Fun at the Gas Station

In the full-service gas station and automotive shop where I worked for ten years, we had the “Go Fuck Yourself” game.

How you played was: you waited until a coworker was completely engrossed in a difficult task that was obviously pissing them off. Then, from a nice safe distance, you call out their name, like you need them for something:

“Hey, Jim!”

(Jim ignores you.)

“Jim!”

(Ignores.)

“Jim!”

(Still yet ignores you, but every nuance to his posture speaks to his profound rage towards you, his job, his dead wife, minorities he can’t even keep track of coherently, and whatever else is going on in that rat’s nest he calls a psyche.)

“Jim!”

“What!?” Jim yells, as he finally pulls his focus away from his task.

“Go fuck yourself!”

Pro tip: When doing this game with the real Jim, make fucking well sure you’re ready to duck whatever hand tool he’s using, because that shit is more than likely bound for your head.

It was not a healthy work place, but we sure did like to laugh. Because fuck Jim.