17 July 2010

So important

Tangles

When I was younger, before 10% unemployment, there was always that one disgruntled person at work who loved to say "They couldn't keep this place going without me. One of these days I'm going to walk out and THEN they'll see."

Mr. Disgrunt always had some highly specific thing HE did that no one else could do - "I'm the only one who ever files anything around here. This is my system and no one else knows where anything is."

Then came the inevitable day where they got fired or walked out in a huff and somehow everything went on without them. Someone would take a couple days and straighten out the mess Mr. Disgrunt had made of the "system" and in a few months, no one could remember Mr. Disgrunt's name unless they were making a joke about how awful he was.

Denise from BlogHer posed the question: Do you work while you're on vacation?" and most people said yes. Others asked "What's vacation? LOL".

I feel like we have almost become a nation of Mr. Disgrunts by refusing to ever take a day off. Not that we have his attitude - quite the opposite. "I'm ALWAYS available! Call me if you need me!"

We're always at work. We're so important that we just CAN'T take a day off! Oh, heck no! They can't keep the place going without me!

I've been there. I have spent many days in lovely resort locations, listening to my loved one take work calls or watching him send emails on his blackberry. "Look, honey, sunset! Oops, I guess you missed it."

I wonder how much of it is actually being needed and how much is ego desire to feel needed. Do you ever wonder?

Or it it fear? You can't stand up to your boss and say that you need to have a life outside of work? You're so grateful to have a job that you let yourself be exploited? Or you ARE your own boss and feel like you need to always push on?

Or maybe you like work more than anything else in your life? Or you're doing something really important that really does need to get done, all of the time?

Just wondering.

12 comments:

Hilary said...

I think it is part peer pressure and part technology. Everyone is always so connected, how can you not be? Clients send emails all hours of the day and night, and with your blackberry you are able to respond at all times. I find if I don’t stay “connected” I just never can catch up……

Mir said...

Interesting, because I think of my I-always-have-to-work mentality being driven much more by exactly HOW replaceable I am. It's not that no one else can do it, it's that they'll hire someone else or go read someone else if I don't. I know far too many people who are unemployed or underemployed, struggling to make ends meet... I'm not going to do anything that might jeopardize the income I have. And as a freelancer, unplugging and just going on vacation is the best way I can think of to put my livelihood at risk.

Which kind of sucks. But it turns out that I'm more attached to paying the mortgage than I am to having a whole week work-free. So.

Rachel said...

It's the technology - everyone is available 24/7 via computer and wireless technology, smart phones, etc.

My hours were cut at the day job couple months ago, which was a welcome thing for me as I branch out into freelance writing. But now they keep asking me to work more hours, even though there's no work to be done. Just in case something comes up that "only" I know how to do. It's been amusing to see my manager realize how much he's been out of the loop.

Rachel said...

It's the technology - everyone is available 24/7 via computer and wireless technology, smart phones, etc.

My hours were cut at the day job couple months ago, which was a welcome thing for me as I branch out into freelance writing. But now they keep asking me to work more hours, even though there's no work to be done. Just in case something comes up that "only" I know how to do. It's been amusing to see my manager realize how much he's been out of the loop.

Jenny said...

Sue,
Fabulous post! I was one of 3 people who said absolutely not. I think your speculations are all relevant; maybe just different ones for different individuals. I'm glad you threw the dreaded Ego question out there! Most of us don't want to admit we are Ego driven, but life gets so much easier when we can acknowledge that Ego is what's driving us. We become more humble, we take better care of ourselves, and we choose our actions based on the "greater good".
I know people who really do love their work; their work is their life and if that works for them that's cool as long as they can truly and honestly say they are happy with their lifestyle.
Finally our society rewards sacrifice and overwork, no wonder we try to be superhuman!

mdog said...

i am a salaried employee, but my standards are a 40-hour work week, and when i vacation, i am gone. i haven't quite figured out what the big deal about never taking time off is all about. grow a set, eh?

people seem to think that "only" working 40 hours means you are somehow lazy. in my opinion, it means you are efficient.

Angelo Trevor said...

For "normal" folks, I think it's fear of being replaced.

I'm lucky enough to work in the public sector now, backed by a fairly powerful union presence. This guarantees a certain amount of vacation time, which I am actively encouraged to use.

When I did the exact same job in the private sector, however, my vacation options were more limited. While it was never stated overtly, long vacations (and by 'long', I mean an entire week) were frowned upon. There was always someone more than willing to take up the slack for you. And it certainly didn't pay to be easily replaced when the pink slips started flying.

I'm afraid the old adage that people are working longer hours for less money is entirely too accurate.

And don't even get me started on furloughs...

anne said...

I love my job, which is why I'm always available - to stay late, or come in early or on weekends. Because I know I have a rare thing - I sincerely love my job - and the facts that a.) it's of limited duration (grant-funded), and b.) I don't (semi-by choice) have much of a social life.

I have a history of working too much - like so many among us - but it's always been driven more by a desire to help or to please than any worries about job loss. Which isn't necessarily better!

Interesting question. :)

Gretchen said...

I'm in a support staff position. When I take time off, I make it a point to not look at work e-mail, I don't phone in, and I don't tell people "Just call me if you need anything." I am off, period. I don't get paid enough to work when I'm off.

meno said...

I think it's ego, which is the same as fear, in a way.

I feel this way about chronic photographers. "Look at this sunset!"

"I have to go get my camera"

"Too bad, you missed it."

apathy lounge said...

So grateful for my job that I --sometimes--allow myself to be exploited. Why yes. How did you know?

Scientific Lutheran said...

I try to step past my ego, and realize that, while it might take a week or two, my boss could find someone else to do my job.

But still, I take my vacation, and I take it seriously. I set up my Email Assistant with an Out-of-office email response, that emergencies should be taken to my co-worker or boss. I'll check my email, but unless the building is on fire, I'm not available. I know this makes me a more productive worker, when I get time off I don't mind coming in on weekends and staying late if I need to.

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