A few months back I wrote a piece about American overtime laws and how they set clear boundaries about what kinds of workers need to be paid time-and-a-half for any hours per week they work over forty. These laws were enacted to 1)Create more jobs by giving employers incentive to hire more workers at the regular rate instead of paying their existing workers the time-and-a-half rate, and 2)To help workers maintain a better work-life balance, because working a lot of overtime sucks hard.
The rules are laid pretty clearly in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which I first learned about when my old job as a school secretary overloaded me with more work than I could possibly handle in a 40-hour workweek and I started doing some research. While the Continue reading
When I was in India, I found myself being asked the same three questions over and over:
- Are you married?
- How many brothers and sisters do you have?
- What is your job in America?
Now the answer to the first question was of course no (my response usually involved the phrase “haven’t found the right girl”) and my having two younger brothers was simple enough, but how to explain my work to people from an entirely different culture was a whole lot trickier.
In America, when I meet a new person and hear the “What do you do?” question, I judge based on the situation whether the person is Continue reading
“But wait!” some of you naysayers might be shouting after my last entry about creating a world where people don’t have to spend all their time working just to get by, “if people didn’t have to work, then they’d just sit around playing video games until they ran out of money, and then society would fall apart! The only way to keep people from being lazy is to make sure they’re working hard so they can learn responsibility!”
I hear different versions of this argument a lot, and it always irks me because it assumes that the majority of people are innately Lazy and Useless, so we have to force them to work just to teach them a lesson.
This argument falls apart when you consider that being forced to work uninspiring, mindless jobs makes you see work solely as a chore, like that dishwashing metaphor I always use for unpleasant tasks Continue reading
A few weeks ago I met a guy who worked in a large corporate office. I don’t remember his name, and I’ve changed a few biographical details here to protect his anonymity, but I’m writing about him today because he was able to describe his job in one of the most perceptive ways I’d ever heard.
This guy—Mel, I’ll call him—had been working for the same company for ten or so years, and looked to be in his early fifties. Before that he’d worked in restaurants, owned a business, managed a ski lodge, and even been a private investigator. Now, though, he had a family, and lived Continue reading
I met James Crews at the University of Nebraska where he worked as a mentor for my first-year teaching class while finishing his poetry PhD. We kept in touch, and when we both found ourselves in the northeast I drove out to southern Vermont to the farmhouse he shares with his partner in Shaftsbury (which, coincidentally, is just up the road from Bennington College, where I did my undergrad). Continue reading
I’m an introvert, which means I gain energy from being alone and I exert energy whenever I’m around people, especially large groups. This doesn’t mean that I hate being around people—in fact, a lot of people who know me will tell you that I’m at my most boisterous when I’m at parties or giving speeches.
This relates to work (specifically Day Job work) in that Continue reading
So this is the end of my three-part series spelling out my entire work history. In Part 1 I covered my early years learning about work, and in Part 2 I moved on to post-college struggles to both scrounge up some money and get out of New Hampshire. Continue reading
This week I’m continuing my list of every job I’ve ever worked with my first four years after college. If you missed the high school and undergrad years, check out Part I here. Continue reading
I blatantly stole the idea for this post from one J. Money did a few years ago, since laying out people’s actual job histories shows how work doesn’t always form some straightforward linear path. We tend to think of careers as a track that goes from College, to a Job, then to a Better Job, and then to Even Better Jobs that steadily pay more Continue reading
There’s a lot of things I hate (rude people, traffic jams, being called “buddy” in conversation), but not getting paid for the work I’ve done takes the top slot. This isn’t because I’ve been stiffed on a paycheck, but because I’ve had jobs where I had to face off against my arch nemesis unpaid overtime.
Check out this graph from the Economic Policy Institute showing Continue reading
This is Part 2 of my interview with poet, artist, and part-time cookiemaker Paul Hanson Clark, so you can check out Part 1 here.
But I Also Have a Day Job: So to make your life work and still do your art, you have to go to your web editing job during the day and make the doughs in the afternoon. Continue reading
I taught English lessons at a for-profit Japanese eikaiwa (conversation school) in Yamanashi Prefecture from 2009 to 2011, and one of the things that most struck me about the Japanese work environment was how easily the Japanese separate their work lives from their home lives. There’s a lot of cultural factors at work here, but the one people explained to me most often was the idea of honne and tatemae: Continue reading