Monday, November 20, 2006

Spoilt from the Git

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not working now, and am busy furiously looking for a job. If it wasn’t for this pesky business about paying bills, I could be quite happy whiling away my hours, but that’s neither here nor there.

[You know, I’ve never really liked paying bills…] Pipe down, Peter, we all know you get that construction job in the end.

I don’t seem to have any particularly sought after skills, at least not for this area. I’ve had former colleagues alert me to opportunities far away in distant lands, but for now at least, I’m committed to finding work HERE. And unfortunately, there don’t seem to be too many local employers looking for someone with my education and skills. I might have to branch out a little.

While browsing want ads, I can’t help but reflect on the various jobs I’ve had over the years, reviewing positives and negatives, things to look for and things to avoid. I’ve had some real doozies, although frankly my worst can’t compare to some of SodaBoy’s stories (ask him to tell you about the shingle sample factory sometime). I’ve actually seen a number of advertisements for vacancies in the field I worked in the for the last 3.5 years, but I know the minutiae of that particular hell, and I am not eager to return there.

Part of my problem is my frame of mind: I have this naive idea that people ought to be able to find rewarding work. I don’t actually believe that, any more than I believe in Santa Claus, but it was how I was raised, a prejudice I must constantly fight to overcome. It might be a kind of sickness to expect to find a good job, one that is enjoyable; that sort of expectation just sets a person up for disappointment. It is called “work” for a reason, right? Nobody calls it “fun.”

Another part of the problem is that I have worked some really fantastic, fun jobs. My first job ever, as a matter of fact, was fabulous. I think it ruined me. I guess technically it wasn’t my first job, as I’d been babysitting various neighborhood kids for several years by then. But it was my first payroll job, the first time I paid income taxes. It was the summer of 1988; minimum wage was $3.35/hour. I turned fourteen a week before the cut-off date for eligibility: applications for positions on the State Conservation Corps were restricted to teens aged 14-18.

The SCC was modeled after the Youth Conservation Corps programs of the 1970s (which were in turn modeled after Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps). We punched in at the central services office for the parks department, and rode to the work sites in a monstrous 15-passenger van. We worked in several local parks, doing trail improvement projects at Second Home Nature Center and Upland Woods Park, constructing gabion nets along the creek banks at the local fish hatchery. There was an educational component, too, five hours a week dedicated to first aid, tree ID, canoe safety. The work was physically demanding, but it was a diverse group of kids, and we were outdoors all day having fun.

I returned to the SCC in 1989, and got a 20 cent/hour raise, but the program was discontinued after that, to my great sorrow. I doubt I will ever again find a job where the absolute worst thing about it is wearing my hard hat. Of course, I can’t pay the mortgage on minimum wage, either.


Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I've always had a lifelong belief that work should be meaningful, useful, and at least rewarding and satisfying, if not downright fun. AND I have had the privledge of having a number of jobs that fit that category, from teaching sex education when it was against the law in Idaho to working at Second Home Nature Ceter to teaching scienc eto inner city kids--all fun. I've also had some horrid bad jobs. Sometimes the same jobs.

Maybe no one should read us Fairy Tales when we are little that end with the phrase "Happily Ever After!" The old real fairy tales were often gruesome and much more realistic.

Erin said...

I talked briefly about feeling the same way regarding the way we were brought up to think we could have a job that was enjoyable in an early post on my blog. Obviously, I am still suffering from those delusions as well.