Tuesday, January 19, 2016

J is for Jealous

I get out of bed at 4 AM each morning to perform a menial job rich in stress, dissatisfaction, potential health risks and exposure to liability. It is equally poor in remuneration and benefits.

Owing to a felony conviction for long-term unemployment, there is little else.

This allows me to hold forth on the working poor at festive occasions like birthdays, christenings and New Year's Eve parties. (Yes, I receive a lot of invitations.)

As such, I am trying very hard to understand the dullards fortunate-enough to win lotteries who see no other way forward than to continue reporting to work.

If we were speaking of concert pianists or successful filmmakers or renowned brain surgeons, that would be one thing. But we're talking about an employment strata decidedly less elevated; one way, way downstream.

We're talking store clerks, municipal laborers and in the case of one recent winner—warehouse supervisors.

I have worked in warehouses. They are ugly, dirty and drafty places full of mice and mousetraps and unhappy people living on the margins of solvency. Warehouses have lunch rooms with burned-out fluorescent lights, sagging paneling and chipped Formica tables. Filthy microwaves and broken coffee-makers.

So I'm wondering why, when opposed to a month in Spain or Italy or overseeing the construction of a new dream home, someone would choose to remain in one.

I mean, do you have nothing better to do than to get up and go to your dreary, dead-end job? No imagination that stretches beyond doing what you have always done?

How sad. How infinitely and inexplicably sad. Some combination of your education and your parents have failed you, and I am sorry for that.

I get three magazines, a daily newspaper, read books and am a voracious consumer of movies and music. There aren't enough hours in the day to read all that I want to read, see all that I want to see and hear all that I want to hear.

I won't even broach the ten years without a vacation which has left my thirst for travel parched and unrequited.

And you can't think of anything to do but get up and go to work

The only thing more remarkable than your short-sightedness is why, even with the likes of you about, scientists continue to develop robots and drones. 

How about volunteering with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity or Doctors without Borders? Or the local food pantry or children's hospital?

What about building a new animal shelter, or a complex of affordable apartments? Or buying that elderly widower down the block a new roof?

How about getting really out there and turning your job over to someone who—gasp—actually needs it?

Yes, I am jealous. Hideously so.

But whatever our respective fortunes, I at least am curious. And know how to remove my blinders.

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