Birth, School, Work, Death…Anything Else?

While our economy tries to rebound from too many corporations and people getting way too fat at the expense of the rest of us, I think it’s time for us to sit down and retool the entire way we as a country define what it is we are, and what we should really be. This is a pipe dream of mine, but dammit, it sure would be cool if we as a country could pull this off. All it would take is for us to grow even half a testicle.

Because Obama Said So
If you think about it, we have all the necessary factors in place that should allow us to chill out for a bit, take a break and rethink our priorities. This is something our president asked us to do in his inauguration speech and I think he’s got a great point. This period really can be the defining hour for all of us. I’m not talking just about those living in this country. I’m talking about all of us – us as a people in this country, us as in our friends and foes around the world, and us as a global population.

But first we need to start in our own back yard.

This country was founded on certain principles and a lot of hard work. We’ve been working so hard for so many years so we can lead the world in productivity that we’ve lost our way. Our culture has slowly transitioned into an environment that spurs workaholics. So many of us have been led to believe that if we work our tails off for years and years we will reap boundless rewards in the end. We will reach the end of our working lives and relish in the fruits of our labors and spend our “golden” years comfortably and without care. Half naked servants will dance around us as we lounge in the sun, offering grapes, wine and song. Holy crap, what a world!

What a seriously large crock of bullshit. This crock runneth over with the shit of bulls.

Wake Up, Your Dream Is Over
First of all, those days of spending your entire life working for one company are over. The way your father had it is long gone. I saw it begin to happen with my dad somewhere around the mid 70’s. First he started changing jobs, then the company he’d work for would reduce his retirement benefits, then they were cut altogether. My father was very fortunate that he had a son (one of my brothers) who was an investment counselor because the day had arrived when he had to do the retirement planning legwork on his own instead of having a Human Resources rep from his company do it for him. By the time my dad retired he had nothing in the form of retirement benefits from any of the companies he had worked for.

Thanks for all of your years of dedication and devoted service. Thanks for working on those Saturday’s, too. Now screw you, it’s time for you to retire, good luck, buh bye now.

Do you have any idea how many people past the age of 65 are forced to work at shitholes like MacDonald’s because they weren’t fortunate enough to have a kid in the family that was a financial planner? According to some sources, 10% of workers in this country over 40 years of age are retirees. Some because they want to work, many because they HAVE to work, and that info is from 2005! Just this year in Australia, 40,000 retirees were forced to go back to work. Sorry, but that is, as I said before, BULLSHIT. I think my father was one of the last who was able to retire with most of what he expected to have when he reached that time when he had to call it quits. Even so, now he always complains that he has no money and social security is a sham. Go figure. Social Security is a sham? Whoda thunk.

Work Sucks Then You Die
Because of this scenario I think the entire concept of working for a living is a farce. It’s really quite idiotic because when you think about it, most of us will work most of our lives with the dream of retiring and doing things we’ve always wanted to do. You know, crap like traveling, or buying a cool place to retire or whatever. Some bloated idiots even dare to dream of playing golf all day every day. Like I said, they are bloated idiots. The problem is that by the time we reach the age where we can retire with even a little bit of financial security, we’re too damn old to do those things we planned on doing once we retired! How’s that for an ironic kick in the pants?

So, America, waiting until retirement to enjoy life is out of the question. What is the answer? How about living that life right now? Think you can’t? Well, you’re partially right. You can’t live that life in America right now because you’re still working. What’s the key? The key is America needs to restructure what our working lives consist of. We need to deemphasize this need that America has to lead the world in the production of everything. The fact is we DON’T lead the world in the production of everything so why can’t we just give up on that stupid notion? What happens if we give up on that stupid notion?

We as a country start making some smart decisions about how we should work, and those decisions can play into how we can actually start enjoying our pre-retirement lives more. What I speak of isn’t a new concept – several countries have developed the correct formula that allows people to work, enjoy life while doing so, and retire at a decent age and still enjoy retirement. Look to Europe for details about what I’m referring to. Look to Europe to see a happier, healthier culture. It’s true that in France women aren’t encouraged to shave their armpits, but that could be a decent trade for a longer life expectancy, don’t you think?

Utopia Defined
What the hell is wrong with making the standard work week four days? Nothing gets done on Fridays anyway! Two day weekends are simply not long enough to allow one to decompress from the previous week and then ramp up in preparation for the upcoming week. Three day weekends provide the perfect amount of time to decompress, ramp up AND have time in between to relax and enjoy time away from work. The physical benefits include more time to sleep and less hurrying around trying to get crap done, and the emotional benefits are a real separation from your job. Put those two together and you have a recipe that can only give you a great chance at leading a healthier, happier life, which should turn into the benefit of adding years onto your existence on this planet. For those who have a distinct dislike for the planet, that’s probably not such a great thing. But for those who like the idea of living, it should be a nice carrot to dangle.

Once we get that work week chopped down to four days we can take a swing at reformatting the work day. I’m a white collar kind of guy in the sense that I am a web developer. I sit at a desk all day writing program code while sitting in a chair that is an ergonomic nightmare. The more code I write the closer I get to complete debilitation via carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves in my neck, ruptured disks in my back and the deformation of my tailbone. Let’s also not forget about how staring at a monitor all day causes my eye muscles to lose their elasticity and focusing ability causing the need for reading glasses, computer glasses, looking-out-the-window glasses and glasses for whatever else I decide to look at during my day. The lighting is always terrible wherever I work, the recycled air is far from fresh, and no one gives a shit as long as the whip can still crack and get things done.

All that and I get a full half hour for lunch. I feel so damn special.

Just like needing a weekend to regroup and re-energize, we should all get a two hour lunch each day so we can have truly productive work days. Four day work weeks and six hour work days. That’s what I’m talking about. Just think about how your attitude would change. Think of how the quality of your life would increase. You never know, it may just make you smile more, laugh more, it might even, I dare to say, help Boston train travelers to let go and say hi to each other from time to time or even talk about the weather occasionally. Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far, but one can dream. You may even notice an increase in your daily productivity at work! Yeah, I know – it’s true!

You probably think I’m dreaming here, or just plain talking out of my ass. But trust me; I know the difference between a fart and a burp. The reason why we can’t ever enjoy this new culture I speak of is because Americans have this natural attitude that says we have to be the world leader in everything. Well, except soccer because we’ll always suck at soccer on the world stage. But whether we’re building bombs, airplanes to drop them out of, cars, lawn mowers, television sets, bird houses, thumb tacks or anything, we have to at least try to be the best in the world at it. But we pay a price for that attitude and it comes in the form of shorter life spans and more therapy sessions per capita than most other countries on Earth. Trust me, look it up. I’m too tired to do the research myself because I work 40 hour weeks, but I know for a fact that the average life expectancy is higher in France and Italy than it is here in America.

There are some signs that America might be willing to hop aboard and join me in my pilgrimage to this state of utopia. America already knows that they can’t lead the world in auto production. There is no way in hell we can compete with Canada, Russia and Sweden in producing quality hockey players (no knock to Chris Chelios intended). Pizza made here doesn’t stand a chance against a pie from Italy and just tell me you’d rather have a margarita made in America versus one made in Mexico. Not happening. You can go to an Outback Steakhouse in America and even with their supposedly authentic Aussie menu, do you really feel like you’re in Australia rammin’ down a bloomin’ onion or havin’ a damn shrimp off the barbi? Hell no!

Old Dogs, New Tricks
So we’re getting close to giving up on this world domination idea. We’re opening up to the idea of enjoying life a little more with less stress and more leisure time. Our president has challenged us all to come up with a better way of life in America for Americans. He wants us to reach out and help one another so we can all be the Americans we are supposed to be. All we need to do is change our belief system a little bit and maybe take a closer look at some of the countries around the world that we thumb our noses at. No, France doesn’t lead the world in many things (including the production of French Fries – that would be US), but they sure know how to live and enjoy life. It’s ironic they gave us the Statue of Liberty and put some kind of inspirational inscription on it, but they forgot to clue us in on the real secrets of a great society. I doubt they really know them anyway, but it could have at least been a starting point for us.

My half hour is up – time to get back to work!

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  1. Random Thoughts « Unknown Quantity

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