Friday, 13 May 2011

Why Work?

I'll get the dirt over with before it is thrown at me. I'm an idler, a parasite, a non-voting apathetic moron who defines all that is wrong with a generation. OK? Now that I have no secrets, let us begin.

I wasn't made redundant; I gave up work voluntarily. For me, and people like me, the Protestant work ethic never existed. The problem is that to counter this apparently simple choice not to work, we have against us the whole of industrialised western society, and possibly the east as well.

'So-and-so is doing well for himself'. That sentence will always ring ominously in my ears. I know then, without a doubt, that I am about to be subjected to a catalouge of some imbecile's achievements. It's usualy my mum, who takes sadistic pleasure in gleefully reciting the exploits of Mrs Whatername's progeny. They appear to be under the impression that the result will be to inspire me to reach the top in the business world. Sorry mum, no chance!

It's a confusing situation to be in. On the one hand I do want some of the material wealth which a steady job could bring. On the other hand I already have some treasure of my own. I have empty parks on sunny days, long walks with my dog, the library, watching my village rugby or cricket team play on saturdays, an afternoon pint, the 2.15pm play on BBC Radio 4, peace and freedom. I thought for a long time that I was alone with this attitude towards work, success etc. However, on talking to freinds I have discovered what could be a whole new social movement - a civil society if you will.

There is a swing towards the opinion that work is for donkeys and cowards. Only fools work voluntarily, all the rest are bribed or blackmailed. As a rough guide I would say that single people are bribed and married people are blackmailed.

Lets look at someone who fits into this world in the way expected of him. Bob is an accounts assistant. For six years he has worked faithfully for his employer, and for what? The communting is exhausting and the poor bloke is always overdrawn at the bank. To live up to the image a young working man is required to present, he is forced to live beyond he means......

So why does he do it? He's not a fool, he's like all the others on that morning train; he's scared. The consequences of being a non-worker terrify him.

I can feel only sorrow for those school-leavers scouring those dreadful little machines down at the job centre. They think a job will be the answer to all their problems. Someone has been misinforming them, such dreams they have! The money, the wife/husband, the clothes, a car, a flat! I would point out to them that the drudgery of work, and the agony of labouring, and the unending grind of repetition. Work is not the answer to any problems, not even financial ones.

This may just be sour grapes because I am unemployable. There isn't a job out there good enough for me. There isn't a job good enough for anyone. It never fails to astound me that in this world where so much is possible, and where there is so much to take your breath away, so many are prepared to settle for so little.

It makes my day when I sit outside a high street bar on a hot sunny afternoon. There I am in shorts and a t-shirt, sipping a nice pint and reading the sports page, and there are the beasts of burden. The men all sweaty in their crumpled suits, the girls ridiculous in their heels and trouser suits. Go on, buy that new car, get that 'nice' home. You're quite welcome to it, but it's not for me.


  1. Tommy, what would you say to those who hate their job but stick with it, thus prolonging the welfare existence of people who choose not to work?

  2. quit, there is enough excessively high earners at the top to support us all.