I’ve always failed at work. I have been failing since I began working. My first job was at a Straw Hat Pizza place in 1987. My high school friends had come in for a slice of pizza and to play Pac-Man in the small arcade inside the pizza establishment. I stealthily poured a pitcher of Coors beer when the manager was not looking and served it to them. They drank beer and played Pac-Man until they were noticed by the manager. Like all supposedly rebellious teenage kids, when the manager threatened them by saying he was going to call the cops, they told him I was the one who had served them the pitcher of beer. I was asked to leave right there and then and told never to step foot back in Straw Hat Pizza.
I hated work from the beginning. I never understood why I had to work. I always felt like work was a waste of time. A waste of a life. To me work has always been a place where someone goes to be miserable and stuck; to be told what to do and pretend that they are happy to do it. I understood that I needed to earn money through working in order to have a non-homeless lifestyle, but I have never been happy about it. I also have always hoped that eventually I would find work that I at least kind of enjoyed.
Life is short. We hear this cliché saying again and again, but it is true. It may feel long when you are living it but the moment you come to your end, life always feels way too brief. So why waste your time? Why do something you do not like and is not in alignment with your values? What is the point of that? Isn’t that what it means to waste a life? Because Adam ate the Apple now that means that I have to slave way at a job that I am not happy at? I have to just suck it up and accept this is the way that work is because of some bullshit Christian myth?
I’ve failed at every job I have had. By fail I mean that I have failed to really be happy about work. To accept it and make the best of it. To feel grateful that I have a job. I always end up resenting my work, as if work is preventing me from doing what I want to do. I have worked as a shoe salesman, a barista, a waiter, a mortuary assistant, a bartender, a Macy’s retail salesperson, a high school teacher, a college professor, a fast food clerk, a modern furniture salesperson, a meditation teacher, a record store clerk at Tower Records and a psychotherapist. I am sure there are jobs that I am forgetting about. Oh yeah, I worked at a bagel place. Every morning I would slice and put cream cheese on the bagels of men and women heading off to their beloved Silicon Valley tech jobs. I always felt like I was on the outside. Why couldn’t I find a dignified job I liked?
I hate authority. I hate people telling me what to do. Fuck you. Anyone who tells another person what to do, anyone who bosses another person around because they know that person needs the job, is not a good human being as far as I am concerned. What kind of person would want to be in a position of authority? Not a good one, in most cases. It is usually a person who is arrogant and on some sort of power trip. They feel so small and insignificant in their own life that they need to be in a position of authority. This is why I have always thought that if I could become a countercultural icon, I could avoid ever having to deal with people in positions of authority. Sure, I would still have to deal with cops and the government, but I could avoid that trap of being dependent on following the rules of authority, in order to get paid.
Being a countercultural icon would involve work that is more self-determined. I could continue to be a rugged individualist without having to have my balls cut off. I could work from home and do what I want to do and actually get paid for it. A countercultural icon creates their work rather than being dependent on other people to create work for them. A countercultural icon’s work is almost always of a creative nature and they get to be themselves without the fear of losing their job or business or reputation or positive Yelp status because someone else does not like them. More or less, countercultural icons get to do what they want. And doing what I want has always appealed to me. Life is just to fucking short to only do what you want on the weekends. Fuck that.
But I have failed at being a countercultural icon. It does not seem to be happening for me. I am beginning to believe that I am doomed when it comes to the working world. No matter what the work is, I will fail. Because my first working experience at Straw Hat Pizza was such a negative one, I was condemned (before even turning 18) to a life filled with failing at work. Even though by many standards I now have a good, well-paying, culturally legitimate job, I am still unhappy about it. I have my own office, I make decent money, I get to help other people, I do not really have an authority figure watching over me, I make my own hours, but still I am miserable. The work I am doing just does not feel like me. I am not a countercultural icon. I am just an average, professional, suburban worker making his honest and unrecognized way in the world. I am a slave to needing others to like me in order to get paid. Maybe I should read more of the way too many positive-thinking-conform-your-mind-to- being-happy-about-being-an-average-person-in-the-system-blogs. But something about all of this really pisses me off.