My Thoughts On Working Life

 

It’s now been four years since I last held a regular job.  Even though I don’t need the money from a job as I am debt free, I do miss the daily structure that having a job gave.  I do not miss dealing with office politics.  It seemed that nothing I ever did at a job was good enough for bosses or coworkers.  I would ask questions and I’d get in trouble.  I wouldn’t ask questions and I’d get in trouble.  I would make mistakes because no one explained procedures and I’d get in trouble.  I dealt with coworkers who were in a foul mood most of the time because they hated their jobs.  I never had any kind of real training and then I’d get into trouble because I was doing things wrong.  I was fired from my first job at age seventeen because I wasn’t figuring things out fast enough.  I was sexually harassed by female and male coworkers. Surprise, even men can get sexually harassed.  I even had a coworker threaten to kill me once.  I walked off the job and quit the next day over that.  I didn’t report it because I was too afraid and it’s my experience that no one would take my problems seriously. Eventually I decided I had enough of the work world in general and just left my last job.  I haven’t looked back.  I would have loved to had the structure and something to do everyday.  But the workplace is just absolutely toxic and unhealthy anymore.  I don’t see how you normals can encourage this nonsense.

Of course my critics think I’m just weak for not being able to deal with toxic work environments.  Some probably think me stupid for not being able to make sense of workplace politics.  I can’t make sense of the work world.  It makes no sense to me why you normals would rather look good but not be productive and not take chances to go for greatness.  Why do you complain about your bosses and coworkers?  Why do you complain about your customers?  I can’t make sense of your workplace, at least not the American workplace.  Surely it couldn’t have always been this toxic and counter productive.  As far as I’m concerned let the robots and automation take most of the jobs.  Most people don’t do their jobs because they love what they do or are even good at it.  Most people work their jobs just for the money.  I think in time people would be happier if they didn’t have to deal with toxic work environments and were at work because they wanted to be not because they had to be.  But with automation set to come in a large way, people may not have to work full time to have a decent life.  If automation makes food and products cheaply, then many people could get by on a low wage job or even a disability pension.

I used to work in customer service.  It seems to be the most abundant set of jobs as fewer people are needed for agriculture and manufacturing in the early 21st century.  And I never could figure out why people are verbally abusive to store clerks and fast food workers.  Most of these workers that get the abuse are front line workers making barely over minimum wage.  I don’t mean this to sound like an insult but if we expected great deals from these front line workers, then we would be paying them more than minimum wage.  And I saw in article last week that Wendy’s, one of the largest fast food chains here in America, is planning on having self ordering kiosks at all of their restaurants by the end of 2016. So you normals are yelling at people whose work can be done by machines now.  Someday your job could be too.

I yelled at a store clerk last summer when I was going through a mini psychotic breakdown.  It was the only time in my life I was mean with a store clerk.  I felt so rotten about it I immediately apologized and I voluntarily stayed out of that store for a month.  I felt so ashamed of myself for yelling at this college aged clerk and he did’t even do anything wrong.  I feel embarrassed writing about it almost a year later.  I used to get verbally abused by customers and coworkers all the time when I worked retail and restaurants.  And I promised myself I would never do that to another person.  It felt terrible being on the receiving end of the abuse and I didn’t feel powerful for being the abuser that one time.  So I ask, why do you normals feel it’s your God given right to be abusive to those in low positions?  We outlawed slavery and serfdom generations ago.  Just because you are in a position of power does not give you the right to be abusive.

I am thankful everyday that I have my disability pension to fall back on.  It wasn’t my first choice when I was growing up. I was a top student as a child and I wanted to be a research scientist since I was five years old.  I knew I wanted to go to college by the time I was in second grade.  I was in a gifted and talented program where I took the college board exams as a thirteen year old.  I was a member of National Honor Society.  I went to college initially as a Pre Med major.  After a year and a half of college, I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and I could no longer do the tough science and math classes. I continued to go to college and work after I was diagnosed because I really wanted to be a good productive member of society.  But my mental illness destroyed my ability to process stress, read people, and navigate work place politics.  I wouldn’t be so negative about the work place if I could process stress better and read people. I probably could have done some kind of trades work but I am not very good with my hands.  All my talents were in the mental realms. But I’ve had enough bad experiences with the kinds of work I can do with a mental illness that I don’t even want to go back to work ever again.  With more and more lower and even medium level jobs being primed to get taken over by machines and automation within the next several years, working may not even be an option for me and many other people.

I never could understand the mentality that you are only valued for what you do, especially what you do for money.  Most farm work is done with machines now.  Many manufacturing jobs are done by machines with a handful of people in support roles.  Automation is coming to telemarketing, fast food, retail, banking, stock brokering, etc.  We have computers that can beat grandmasters at chess, beat any human at trivia games, store and recall more information than any organic brain could possibly. We are developing automobiles and trucks that can drive themselves, so there goes truck drivers.  Airplanes essentially fly themselves anymore with human pilots there mainly to take over in case of emergencies. We have machines that we send to other planets and explore essentially on their own.  Most of the physical and clerical work a human can do can already be exceeded by machines.  Even the military is using robots and drones, so there’s less need for human soldiers in many developed countries.  Unless you’re in a career that involves a great deal of independent thought, personal touch, and creativity, your job very likely is at risk of being automated.  Then what of that identity you’ve built around your job for most your adult life?

buckminster-fuller-earn-living-technological-breakthrough

In closing we as humans are more than what we do for money.  I was always more than my remedial job or small bank account.  We are not the cars we drive, the houses we live in, or the clothing we wear.  With machines being primed to do many jobs better than humans and make high quality products for quite cheap, we humans are going to have to find different measures of distinction.  And I probably would have never gotten to this level of acceptance had I never developed a mental illness.  Many people will be blind sided by the levels of change that are going to hit the workplace and society in general.  It will be interesting and scary at the same time for the next fifteen to twenty years.

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Author: alifeofmentalillness

I write about my experiences with mental illness and life in general. I am also currently under going 'lifestyle changes' (I hate the term 'dieting' as it's sounds so temporary) and have lost 70 pounds since spring 2014. I've put my poetry and novel writing on lower priority since I started losing weight and blogging more seriously.

4 thoughts on “My Thoughts On Working Life”

  1. In my area of field work, there will probably never be automation to completely take over, but there will always be the technological and medical advances to keep Healthcare Jobs going. What big corporations fail to see is that they’re front lines (soldiers) are the ones getting killed at a burnout rate of about 4-6 months because they want their money from insurance and the people that fill they’re beds, but don’t pay their soldiers enough money to take the abuse given on a daily basis. Nor do they give them incentives or recognition for their hard work. They get rid of the hard workers in exchange for the lazy ones because they kiss ass. And in the end, the ones we are meant to take care of are the ones who REALLY suffer.

  2. While in college I worked overnights at a convenience store. Usually, the only clerk on duty. I’ll never forgot this one morning, an unusually long line of customers developed inside the store. At the same time, an unusually long line of car materialized at the gas pumps. This was in the mid 80’s. I had to set each pump to the stop at the dollar amount the customer wanted to pay. At the same time I had to ring out customers inside the store. Credit cards and checks had their own paperwork to complete. I had to count back change from cash transactions. It was a very hectic and stressful job.

    Apparently, in the bustle of activity this morning, I mistakenly hit the ‘stop’ button on the entire gas line. That was not uncommon as the layout of the gas control panel was poorly designed. Usually, the gas customers understood. However, this time the immediate outcry was loud and harsh. I feverishly tried to reset and restart the gas line while the customers inside were growing impatient.

    One man, a middle aged man in a suit and tie, walked from the outside gas pumps to inside the store, cut in front of all the customers waiting in line and gave me a tongue lashing that I have never forgotten. He left me visibly shaking, humiliated, rejected, hopeless.

    These days, when I stop at a convenience store to buy gas, I’m amazed at the automation in buying gas. When I go inside for a soda and other stuff a bar code scanner calculates the total price for me. Paying for goods at the counter can be done solo.

    With all this automatic and convenience for the customer, I’m still amazed how people can get so upset at the clerk when the internet goes down and scanner doesn’t work. Or when there is a hiccup in the electronics and it takes an extra fifteen seconds to complete the transaction.

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