I usually let these archive posts stand alone without any additional comment or correction. After reading through this one, well, I knew I had to lead it off with a little commentary. This post was written back in October 2011, when I was still fresh in the new gig… Almost six years later I’ve been through four changes of first line supervisor, four changes of senior supervisor, four changes of command, and watched a metric shitload of water pass under the bridge. You can tell it was written when I was fresh and excited because I mention putting on a tie. I wouldn’t write this post the same way today. And I definitely wouldn’t call it “a little slice of heaven” even in comparison to what came before. The more things change, maybe they really do stay the same.
The original post from October 24th, 2011 follows:
They say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. It occurs to me that people who say this are probably either a) moron, b) easily amused, or more likely c) easily amused morons. Setting that aside for a moment, it seems the career I’m most interested in would be professional PowerBall winner. Suddenly finding myself heir to a hotel fortune would be ok too, I guess. Having the freedom to work at what you’re really interested in rather than what pays the bills has to be an interesting experience, but even then I’m pretty sure I’d think of it as “work.”
That’s not to take anything away from what I’m doing now. Really. I mean it. I’ve got a perfectly good job and bring home a perfectly good living. Compared to what I was doing a year ago, this places is practically a little slice of heaven. Even so, I’m never going to mistake it for doing something I love. At best, I’m doing something at which I have some degree of comparative advantage and that I don’t find mind-numbingly dull. I don’t have a boss who makes me crazy and I don’t, with a couple of noted exceptions, mind my colleagues. Given the current state of the economy, I’m doing every bit as well as anyone could reasonably expect. In my own warped way, I’m grateful for that.
Still, I don’t love it. Throwing on a tie and coming to the office isn’t something I do in the morning with unbridled glee. I suppose it’s possible that some people do, but I haven’t bumped into them in the parking lot. Maybe they all come in before I do. Regardless, I think the whole idea of loving your job is overblown. Sure, I like it well enough, but if I suddenly hit a $100 million jackpot, I don’t like it well enough to keep showing up when I don’t need it to pay the bills. Frankly I can’t think of anything I love doing enough that I wouldn’t think of it as work if I had to do it for eight hours every day. Even sitting on the beach drinking umbrella drinks would get old after a while… and besides, there’s not much of a market for that kind of employee.
My advice to the next generation isn’t to waste time looking for a job you love. Instead, find a good paying job you can tolerate for a while, make what you can, and then move on to the next thing. If you’re looking for deep personal fulfillment in the eight hours a day you spend whoring your mind and body out to the highest bidder, you’re going to be disappointed. Like every street walker knows, when you’re in the business of selling yourself by the hour you’re way more likely to get screwed than you are to find love.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.