By Alun Thomas
There was a case recently of a famous soccer player who complained of being worn out after playing too many games. This player earns one hundred thousand pounds a week, over two hundred thousand in US dollars. It struck me that no individual earning such an outrageous sum of money should complain about being fatigued. Considering that he is earning in one week what many make in three or four years, that is an embarrassing statement.
Here's the reality of it. A highly paid soccer player plays on average one or two games a week, depending on their status. Aside from that all they do is train for a few hours a day. Now this unnamed player in question plays more than most, usually two a week, and is very high profile,married to an ex member of the Spice Girls. Why is it we are supposed to feel sympathy for figures like this but not ourselves?
As a normal working man I have more right to complain about being fatigued than he. Work usually dictates that you have a miserable two days off a week. The avearge for most people is forty hours work a week. In modern America especially we know this is not true. Most of us work well over forty five, into the fifties and sixties. At the end of a working day we are lucky to have a couple of hours at home to relax before going to bed and repeating this foolish escapade.But of course I'm not supposed to feel exhausted getting up at four in the morning, working until four in the afternoon and being paid the masssive sum of ten dollars an hour. Why? Because i'm lucky to have a job! Or so I am told. 'You won't get this anywhere else!' they say. What? My life for a few hundred dollars a week? Only to be eaten away by taxes and fraudulent insurance costs? 'Hey I'm lucky to have a job' the co-workers say. Some job when you can't afford health care. Some job when you get home at four in the morning sleep until one in the afternoon, see your family for a half hour, and are gone again by four in the afternoon.
Is this all there is to it? Work and death? Why can't there be some way out? I'm sure you all know this already and may scoff at what appears to be naievety? It isn't. It is the everyday realisation and incomprehension that most days of our lives are a pointless debacle that we acnnot avoid. Once you start working the years take on an ever lessening meaning. Remember 1998? Yes I do. I worked. How about 2000? Oh that's right the year the world went into chaos, I worked all that year too. Why do we celebrate new years eve anyway? I still have to go to work the next day. People act as if things will have changed the next morning. Fuck it. I go to bed at ten and ignore it.
And here we are on the brink of war again. Why can we go to war over things like nuclear arms but never our own conditions? Why can't every working individual in the world suddenly say 'I've had it' and walk off the job in a united protest? What would the greedy owners, CEO's and so forth do then? Why can't I work for three hours a day at forty dollars an hour? I wouldn't be earning any more than I usually do, just working less. Who says this is not possible. If I suggested it to my boss he would laugh. But I require more time to myself than he. Why can't people see this? Why should I be limited to two lousy days off a week? After all where is the progression from high school? Get up at eight, be at school by nine, leave at three thirty, do this Mon-Fri and have weekends off? Where's the progression? I find it amazing we accept this. I also find it boggling that we let untalented celebrities infiltrate our lives constantly. Accept your own life as a bore and marvel at some rich bastard making you feel pathetic. People deserve their sad fates by allowing this. J-Lo and Ben? Eat this grenade motherfuckers. I'm not jealous. Just amazed people give their lives to others instead of themselves.
And look at the US. The worst ratio of vacation time for workers among industrial and advanced nations. I've read this numerous times. Here you have to keep a job for a year to get one week off the next. It's like blackmail. In most countries you get two weeks off just for starting a job! Then two more weeks vacation! That's a month. I resent having to work for ten years to get four weeks off at one particular job. Bu there is this hideous mentality in the States that if you are not working then you are worthless and a charity case. It's like that in most countries only worse here. I've listened to drones tell me they wouldn;t know what to do if they weren't working. 'I can't sit around doing nothing, I'd go mad' they say. Brainwashed or slave? I'll tell you what, I can do nothing. I have before and I loved it. I hate working. I wouldn't consider my time as wasted as it is if I sat at home and someone bought me a check every week. A thousand dollars would suit me.
And I know my routine. I'd get up at noon. Then I'd have a bite to eat and check my e-mail. By three in the afternoon I'd be on the computer writing and listening to some metal. By five I'd be in the mood for some Playstation 2, specifically the new Winning Eleven soccer game, where I could wear out Mr Beckham some more. Then I'd consider a nap on the couch, wake up, lie in bed, look at the ceiling and be properly asleep by four. That's the life. And it's not a waste of time, because I would be doing what I want.
But this is a reality I am supposed to dream of. I have to work instead. For miserly sums of money. After being fired from a job I had held for nearly four years I found myself in the position of finding work in a depressed market. All I got was nightshift at the local Kohls for the whopping sum of seven dollars and a quarter and hour. All that while trying to support a family and being weighed down with dubious pleasures like credit card debts, house payments, car payments, all those crappy traps we fall into. While working this tepid job I went up to my supervisor one evening and asked how I was supposed to make it on such an atrocious rate of pay for a grown man. The supervisor never answered, after all it's not their fault, but in a way that said 'don't ask me that, no one ever has'. At a later job I asked my boss the same thing. He too was speechless. 'I'd give you more money if I could' he said 'I just can't'. One week later I quit. I guess a man has no right to earn a living wage. Then at another job an argument ensued between two workers about how much they should be paid. One said 'do you think you're worth ten bucks an hour? I don't!'. The other fellow sat there silent. I chimed in and said 'it's no wonder we're so beaten with attitudes like that.' I asked if Kurt Warner was worth seven million dollars a year crippled on the sidelines. He said yes. There you go.
Somehow we all keep doing it, even though you've had enough. Sometimes the thought of driving my car into an oncoming semi seems more attractive than a lifetime of work. I don't need it. All I need is a cheese bun and a bed to lie on while reading the paper and listening to Death's 'Spirtual Healing'. I only get that pleasure twice a week.
A fellow at work is obsessed with guns, a rabid collector. 'You should collect them' he suggested to me. 'No, I'd be too tempted to blow my head off if I had one' I told him. He laughed as if it were a joke. He saw I wasn't laughing. Neither was he.