Thursday, August 11, 2005


by Skald

Bartlett had a secretary, staff, an important-sounding job and the paycheck to go with it. But, like many workers, he found himself underemployed and bored out of his mind.

"There is a reason why prison is considered punishment," Bartlett said, comparing it to his former job. "You may be in a gilded cage, but if you're just forced to sit there for eight hours all day long, staring at the wall, it can be excruciating."
--from The Washington Post

That's an excerpt from a Washinton Post article that David Smallwood sent me. As I read it, I had sudden flashbacks to IBM and several other office jobs Ive had. Of course, the Washington Post put a pro-work spin on the article... stating that "overwook is less stressful than boredom". Thats hardly the take home message Ive gotten from most jobs.

Most jobs, whether they require a lot of work or hardly any-- are monotonous, degrading, freedom robbing, ethics bending, exercises in humiliation. That goes as much for an executive position at GE as it does for a minimum wage job at Wal Mart.

We all know this. Even my Dad... a lifelong corporate executive... now admits that most of the work is pointless, boring, and meaningless. This is NOT just a phenomenon experienced by anarchist hobopoets.

What makes hobopoets different is that we don't surrender to the situation. We dont consider it "normal" or "realistic". We dont say things like, "well, life is work".... or "that's what being an adult is all about". We dont consider our highest aspiration to be "cover your ass"... or "bring home the bacon".

In my experience, most people are as bored and angry with their jobs as the average hobopoet. But most people bow their head and surrender. Most get trapped by huge commitments such as a mortgage, expensive crap, a spouse, and a family. Most are very very concerned what other people will think of them. Most are trapped by ideas of respectability and responsibility (to others, not themselves).

What makes hobopoets different is not their discontent with wage slavery... its the actions they take to live freer and more autonomous lives.... its the fact that they take responsibility for themselves, their lives, and their own happiness first and foremost.

That is what defines us and separates us from the smiling but quietly desparate.



Anonymous said...

AJ, here I am, stuck in my own office hell again after a 500 mile walking odyssey of juicy freedom. Day after day, sitting in front of a plastic electric box pushing buttons on a plastic electric keyboard in a giant metal box full of hundreds of other sterile plastic electric boxes. How soon before I metamorphose into a dull robot that only looks 'human', just like so many others who've stuck around here too long? Regimented second by second schedules... Mouthing the same scripts 600 times a day like a goddamn answering machine... Trudging home at the end of each weary day, always realizing that another 8 fucking hours has vanished 'poof! - gone, just like that. Great magic trick that is - I should call it the great 'Disappearing Life' trick. Good bargain too, 50 cents over minimum wage + benefits, while CEOs make 100K+ or even millions a year! Fuck this shit, the fire is rising in my belly again, the rage is welling up like gas bubbles in a lava dome... That sweet nectar of freedom once tasted really is impossible to deny, isn't it? An alternative is going on welfare, but I just can't picture myself becoming a human leech. Come to think of it, I'm already a human leech, giving my energy to a system that is steadily sucking the life away from this fragile world. So now, I plan for my next tramping odyssey (it'll have to be soon, or I think I'll explode!!!)

Danny ('Sunwalker')

AJ said...

In the Words of Clinton
I feel your pain. Ive been in your place many times and know how torturous it is.

Stay angry and stay free!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I've decided to compromise and downshift to part time - 4 hrs a day instead of the grueling 8 hour gauntlet. Only $600 a month but I've got such an ultra cheap lifestyle I can actually live on that even with rent! Fuck retirement savings, I refuse to bust my ass every day for some dim future. I live for NOW!!!
Danny aka 'Sunwalker'