Friday, May 04, 2007

Working Problems

Even though the number of unemployed people (currently I'm one of them again) has shrunken considerably during the last year - first time under 4,000,000 for years -, that doesn't necessary mean everything is going well. It means that a lot more people than in past years are working part-time or in badly paid jobs.

The discussion in Germany currently goes - as it does most of the time when it comes to unemployment - towards the argument "those who don't have work just don't want to work anyway". This is something that always makes me sick - no matter whether I'm currently employed or not. It says a lot about the value work and employment have in Germany: we actually define us over 'working' and so everyone who's not working - and hasn't worked for some time, due to not finding a job - isn't worth anything. They might be working for free, with children, with old people or in other areas of voluntary work. But as they are not making money with this, they are not doing any 'real' work - even though most people would tell you it's very rude to actually ask somebody how much he or she makes every month. One of the first questions you get in most cases when meeting a person you've never seen before is something along the lines of "where are you working?". That has always wondered me - because unlike most people I do not define me over my work. I find this rather ridiculous. Why, you ask? Well, read on.

I'm not working because I like my job - I still have to find the one person in the whole world who likes being a telemarketer. I'm working - like most people - because I need money to survive. That might sound terribly selfish and centred on money to you, but that's how it is. I live in a society where you need money to pay your rent, to buy your food and survive. So I have to earn it.

I personally would prefer earning it as a writer, but that's probably not going to happen in the near future. So I'm working in telemarketing - while I'm not unemployed which is a regular occurrence when you're working in telemarketing due to people going bankrupt or simply having to 'shrink' their workforce for a while -, learning to be a web-master and writing in my spare time.

I'm not working for glory either - even if I had another job than telemarketing - unlike many people who have good jobs and like saying things like "Oh, me? I'm a lawyer." in everyday dialogue. I don't really see the point in that - unless, of course, I'm in a lawyer's office and looking for someone to help me with a legal problem.

So, you're a lawyer? What about it? Does that imply all lawyers are good in bed? Do I, the woman you've just met in a pub, need to know that to decide whether or not to consider a one-night-stand with you? Or have people in the past been telling you "If you weren't a lawyer, I wouldn't be your friend."? You could be gathering empty bottles for a living for all I care, if you're an interesting guy to be around, someone I can actually discuss things with, someone who's obviously got a brain, I don't care what you do for a living. But men - mostly men, whether it's because they're getting the better jobs or because it's a 'male thing' like honour - seem to be terribly fixated on telling you what job they have, provided it's a good (meaning prestigious) one.

Guys, you're worried about whether or not a woman really loves you? Don't tell her what job you work in, but do this: don't pick her up in your sports car, don't take her to an expensive restaurant at the first date. If she agrees to a second date after being picked up in an old car and eating at some snack shack, she really loves you. It's true, there are women who are looking for a rich (or at least wealthy) man to marry so they don't have to care about the money, but why baiting them with your high profile job?

In addition I don't always understand why one job is a 'good' one and another job is not.

Being a cleaner usually is not seen as a 'good' job (most jobs in service aren't in Germany, we seem to have a problem with admitting that we're making money by serving someone else), but it surely is a necessary one. And what do the women and (few) men in this line of work get? Hard work, long hours and lousy pay.

Being a manager, on the other hand, usually is considered a 'good job', even though most companies could do with fewer managers than they currently employ. What do the men (mostly men) get in this line of work? Good pay, a good reputation and a risk for a heart attack. The 'good' consequences definitely out weight the bad here, don't you think?

And I admit it: When I had the chance of living without having to work, I'd probably do it, because then I could write eight hours a day instead of whatever time I can spare in the evenings. But maybe I could live off that then. But I can't, so I work. And I look for work while I'm unemployed. I think most unemployed people in Germany think the same way, but there's no way making those who don't have to worry about their job understand that.

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