Monday, July 14, 2008


It's not fun. It's not healthy. It's not mandatory, but my inner food balance ticker tape reports a high quantity of chocolate and blue corn chips over the past 30 hours, and my future includes a dinner at an Italian restaurant. So, my belly is full of tea at the moment. I did have two pieces of whole wheat toast. But there was butter. Cinnamon alone is not enough. No sugar.

On my birthday, my brother and I had a disagreement over the phone regarding work ethics. Ethics, one of the five or so branches of philosophy. I think the problem was that I tend to be an aggressive devil's advocate, and people take that personally. Of course, I did not need to be allied with any demon, as my own opinion regarding so-called worker's rights falls thusly: Don't do any work for free.

It's a simple position. I think it is even admirable. Free labor is devalued. One form of free labor is called volunteering. One should never be called to volunteer for one's employer, I believe. (Another form of free labor is called slavery.)

Our conversation did not invoke any of those things, but it would have been simpler if he had recognized I was being (non-intentionally) female in my implied inquiry as to the existence of personal days at his job.

I had asked about his writing something for me. About his possible return to the Midwest. Among reasons he cited for wanting eventually to move back was the presumption that people here, as opposed to in Houston, are more conscientious about work commitments. They do not, he says, call in "not coming to work" upon the mere prediction of an ice storm. Other bad reasons not to work include "just not feeling like it."

While I agreed that it was rotten for the rest of the staff to have to pick up unexpected slack, I asked whether some cushion time was not built into the production schedule. This is an architectural firm. I understand that the faster things move, the better for the clients' expense, however, I don't see there being much difference between an absence of convenience and one of necessity. My brother says it's a matter of principle.

I asked whether he would feel the same about their taking of sick days. The results, after all, are the same.

Yes, sick days are fine. What if they were lying? Not fine. But no one would know the difference …

Where I have worked, I am always in charge of completing all my own work regardless of days off, planned or unplanned. I believe this point was also not clear in our conversation.

I suspect he believes that sick days should not be used unless actual, physical sickness is present. His place does not have personal days; I do not know the vacation amount. I would venture the standard two weeks. I wonder how mothers with sick children are supposed to operate. I wonder how folks get their driver's licenses renewed or conduct any financial business such as home purchase or account management, though this at least can be planned. Car repairs usually can not.

There is not much disparity between professional salaries at that firm, he tells me, but I do wonder now whether anyone is paid for their overtime work.

In other words, that would account for our difference in perspective. I, for one, have no recourse or compensation when my time spent producing work accumulates past 40 hours in a given seven-day period, nor anything to balance the fact that some work-related obligations must occur after the standard 5 or 6 p.m. or on standard weekends or holidays — besides time itself.

It seems that I've read dozens of news articles about how many hours per week CEOs work — or doctors; the standard American work-week for the successful (perhaps also the double-employed minimum wage crowd) is something like 70 hours long.

Yes, but I'm sorry; my price for such devotional labor is higher than $9 an hour. Isn't yours?

1 comment:

hearmysong said...

aiy. yes. much more than that.
but he is corporate. i think that building a few personal days into the sked would help those who need off but are not sick. but i don't know if personal days exist outside of the realm of teaching. and to that end, i only received two a year, which, sadly (and illegally??) i had to use for religious holidays that fell outside of the contemporary, Western calendar.

don't fast too much. you will mess with your metabolism. each something small before you go out to dinner so that you aren't ravenous. that will keep you from overconsuming. i used to guzzle a can of V8 until the sodium drove me bonkers. but that would tide me over.

hope the bday other than fight with eric was happy! (notice, no commas, as i am fighting the residual vestiges of proofing tests last week. ick.)