Working Man

Throughout most of my life, I have held jobs of no consequence. Being a tour guide meant walking gullible people through a tourist trap for minimum wage – that was a job for pot money. Then I somehow convinced the human resources department at Jackson Community College to take me on as an IT member. I have rudimentary understanding of computers – apparently I have a greater understanding of persuasion, who knew? This was also the first time I had two jobs and the first time I vowed to never do that to myself again. As you can see, I take my vows pretty seriously. 

The next place I ended up was the desert of unemployment. I ran in circles for a year-and-a-half wondering why no one would hire a long-haired hate-machine who actively attempted to reject policy – I fired the intelligence contractor I was using at this time and plugged myself into a more reasonable group of thoughts. Unemployment is debilitating. In the  beginning, people come up and congratulate you on not having to work. For a while, this is fun. That while lasts about a week before the boredom begins to drill holes in your mind. Out of the holes leaks your powers of reason. Steadily it drains out, eroding the initial hole until your better parts gush out of your face in instances of word vomit and nosebleeds. In short, fuck being unemployed.

After wandering that desert, I used a technique taught to me at a very young age by several men more wise than I. I pulled my head out of my ass. What I mean to say is, I overcame my absurd philosophical opposition to getting a fast-food job. A friend of mine was leaving her post at Marco’s Pizza and I asked her to essentially give her job to me. She put in the word, I aced the interview (Difficult, huh?) and then I had a job at Marco’s. The pizza shop was fun, pretty girls, fun summer antics, awkward flirtations, race fan-hate and all sorts of goofy shenanigans happened in those greasy halls. I learned a lot about myself and where I thought I was headed in life. 

During this chapter, I maintained an apartment with a brother of mine. We called it the adobe, or maybe that was just me, either way we had one and it was pretty cool. There was a hound biting just behind my heels. That was when I saw how easy it is to settle into mediocrity. I was in a familiar place, with familiar people, no surprises would come, I could make a modest living and die as if nothing ever happened. I found this appalling. That was worse than suicide to me. “At least you stay alive and have something of your own.” Fuck you. I would never be happy with that life that Townes Van Zandt sang about. I would never be happy just waiting around to die. 

There’s a part here where I had a girlfriend. It ended up sucking. I use the word ‘sucking’ because I don’t have the time to string together enough expletives to convey an accurate sense of how fucking horrible it ended up being. Jesus Hewlett Packard Christ. Sometimes, when I hear a high-pitched voice say “Hey!” like she did, I have flashbacks and drop to the floor screaming. That’s how it goes, right?

I avoided the gravitational field of the soul-devouring hive-mind that is the Hometown – a creature made of wasted potential and ignorance that looks so damn cute to the unambitious. My comrade gave me an opportunity to room with him for a few months before we began renting the house that would take me into the present. I slept on his floor in Ann Arbor for three months while going to school and working at the Produce Station. This was the most suicidal I have ever been. Give yourself a day off, man. You will go fucking insane if you don’t.

This lasted until last August when I lost my job at the Produce Station. A local classmate helped me acquire a position at the Ann Arbor T-shirt Company which went well for a few months until my same comrade helped me acquire a job at Costco as a food demonstrator or sales associate. I carried that job all the way up to this May when I realized I wanted a job that used my body and not my patience. Once again, I quested for a new job. I searched catacombs of craigslist for manual labor positions until I found one that suited the bill perfectly. I became a mover. My job was to lift heavy things and then set them back down. Brilliant.

I’m still at that job. It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I feel like I’ve accomplished something during my day. Hard physical labor is self-validating because you have a tangible consequence for your effort. I lifted an entire bedroom set – now I am sweaty – I must be trying hard – trying hard means I have a good work ethic – this feels good – I can continue trying hard. A perpetual motion machine is tipped off in the mind of a male that allows us to enjoy putting our bodies through stressful situations and eventually makes us excited to tangle with a difficult object. I describe this as a perpetual motion machine because the end is the beginning. Trying hard makes you want to try hard. This is the secret of work ethic, this is the occult knowledge that working men have and teenage boys fumble for. When you put the effort in, to anything, you receive a feeling of satisfaction that drives you to put more effort in. It does no good to analyze the phenomenon too closely as understanding too fully allows for accidental tweaks in the otherwise perfect process. This is the same process that kept men storming off into the jungle to kill animals they couldn’t see. As my blue-collar friends at work would say: “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.” 

If you have an uncomfortable creature lurking in the corners of your mind that assails you with destructive comments, burn it away with raw effort. Get yourself a job or hobby that requires nothing but intense effort. Sometimes you don’t need someone to talk to in order to flush these senseless feelings that disturb and frighten – sometimes you just need to sweat. Now go get ’em.