Monday, May 16, 2011

Working Nine to Five

It's a little past eight in the morning and I still have groggy eyes and feel as though I'm in a sleep daze. But this may be the best time for a blog post about ... WORKING. I had two epiphanies recently concerning working in America, and specifically the work ethnic in our nation and how it's changed over the years and how it affects the youth. Hopefully I can coherently explain my opinions without falling asleep here in my classroom.

Sadly, if anyone has seen the new movie Scream 4 you may already know where this blog is heading. Not to give away the ending, but the young killer at the end of the movie angrily explains that she chose to commit these horrible killings because she craved fame. She says that in today's world, fame is all you need and it's what inspired her to record herself brutally killing her friends. While that whole plot line at the end had a rather ridiculous feel to it (as it was probably intended), I couldn't help but realize that what she was speaking (while outrageously exaggerated, perhaps) had a lot of truth behind it. Here are some of the striking points she made in her monologue:

"What am I supposed to do? Go to college? Grad school? Work?!' ... You don't have to achieve anything - you just need to have fucked-up shit happen to you."
"What world are you living in?! I don't need friends. I need fans!"

Even though I believe that there are many people out there who realize that you do need to go to college and grad school to obtain a solid career, with the devaluation of a bachelor's degree, it does seem that it's becoming increasingly difficult to make it to the workplace (and that's a blog post for another day!). But putting college degrees and careers aside for a second, teens who obtain part-time jobs in high school are becoming increasingly lazy and apathetic. I read an article in the Globe a while back (ugh, couldn't find it now) about how many teens scoff at the amount of hours, and strict policies (no cell phones) of the workplace. And even college grads get careers only to complain about little holiday time.

I guess what I'm trying to articulate is what happened to work ethic, America?

So you can't be "connected" at your work place, huh? Does it matter if you must put down your cell phone for nine hours? If everyone is working at the same time, who are you waiting for to call? The cell phone argument is one I find most egregious. I don't see the harm in employers demanding that cell phones be out of sight during work hours. Boston's MBTA has had several incidents in the past year concerning cell phones and public transit operators. Bay Staters (love this official term) - recall that idiot who was texting while driving a trolley and crashed it into another trolley ahead of him, injuring dozens and causing large amounts of damage that the T already struggles to pay. Just put the phones away - as a teacher, would it be kosher for me to be texting my friend while I'm in the front of the room teaching a lesson and student hands are up asking for help?

My second moment of realization came last week as I was walking home. I saw the local mailman grudgingly putting mail into my neighbor's mailbox and then walk grumpily away. I wondered, 'why don't people take pride in their jobs anymore?' Instantly my mind went back to the era of the 1920s and 1940s (highly romanticized, I know) when Americans took pride in their jobs. I know that most of this pride in the later years came from helping out with the wartime effort, but even post office clerks and bank tellers would smile and wear a neatly pressed uniform. And the boom of the 1920s seems to have fostered a strong work ethic in America, as white-collar jobs became more commonplace. Where have the fleets of uniform flight attendants happy to assist you gone? Today you walk into a bank and no one even looks up to help you. And I'm personally afraid to go into a post office because a few months ago I filled out the package slip incorrectly and the woman got angry with me as though helping me ruined her entire day.

I think modern China is a good example of work force pride. Perhaps it's because of China's development and the modernization and introduction of many jobs, but it seems that public servants in China take extreme pride in what they do and always dress to look their best and represent their employer. Let's bring this back, America! I'm all for casual Fridays, but we need to give the American workforce a face lift. If you represent our nation by holding a career as a public servant, or because you choose to work in an American corporation or private company, take pride in the work you do to improve this great nation.

Of course I complain how basically the rest of my life amounts to working long hours and paying off incredible amounts of debt racked up from college and grad school. And sure, there are many days (like today!) where I shuffle into work and wish I were at home in bed, or basically doing ANYTHING else but be here at work. But there are even more times when I take pride that I am a teacher and hold my head high. And I think it's that spirit that we as a nation need to find again that may help pull us out of this slump.

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