One of my main concerns coming back to America was working. I wasn’t very concerned with finding a job, nor am I overly concerned about keeping it – I am a good worker. I was brought up with a fairly good work ethic. Get a job, and do what is asked of you. And do it with a smile if at all possible. Nobody wants a grouchy employee who complains all of the time. Having said that, I also won’t do things that are above my pay grade. I have had jobs in the past (In America) where I have been asked, or rather expected, to do things that were not a part of my job description. These requests are always met with the same response – How much? I don’t work for free.
And there in lies the issue. I have spoken to at least ten people at my work who told me they come in on the weekends to do extra work. When asked if they got paid they all replied “no”. They all said it was “ok”, or they didn’t mind because they didn’t have enough time to do it during the week. I said that’s fine, but why not get paid for it? If your employer is expecting too much of you, why in the world would you bust your ass? Why would you work through your lunch when you clocked out? If you are doing work, then you should be getting paid. Period. If you are on salary, then you have only yourself to blame.
In Prague folks understood that a job was a job – not your life. I don’t get that feeling here. In the states people like to talk about themselves and their job as if they are interchangeable. Job = Life. When you ask someone about themselves what is the first thing they tell you? What they do. We have made our jobs matter so much that we have lost all perspective on life. A manager of a store will talk about their job as if they are working towards a cure for cancer. Teachers are compared to heroes. Store clerks have BA degrees. It’s embarrassing. Your life is the rest of the things – your health, your love, family, hobbies, home, reading – all of these things matter infinately more to people than how you earn a pay check. You might be thinking, “but I love my job!” and to you I say great. Awesome. Cool beans. Do you love it so much that you would do it for free?
I wish America would relax a little. Unwind. Chill out. I wish America would spend the weekend in its P’jammies while eating cereal in front of the TV. I wish Uncle Sam would spend a week at a spa getting the full treatment. I’m talking mani, pedi, massage and facial. I think he’d be a lot less “in your face” after a Swedish massage. When the work day is over I want The Statue of Liberty to kick off those chunky shoes, relax on the recliner and spark up a smoke. She deserves it! I see her as being a huge fan of Marilyn Milian and People’s Court. And also a huge fan of Ben and Jerry’s. Lady Liberty would never want you to let your employer take advantage of you, or for you to work for free.
Because everybody deserves some time off. Even Americans.