With love, Sisyphus

A job is your time, your mind, your body, your will, your energy, your days spent away from those you love, away from where you want to be.

Yet it promises escape, a purpose, a thrill, a place to accomplish things together, camaraderie, success, an outlet, a steady income, a way to meet your responsibilities, a way to see yourself through hard times.

The job is always frustrating, and demoralizing, and bores (both meanings) the very soul, and it’s a numbing waste of time, an infinitely ghoulish bureaucratic coldness, a handshake with a skeleton. Their solution: prayer, of course; wrap it in mystery, sip some humility on Sundays, up and at ‘em on Monday.

Our leaders spout their job numbers. A million new jobs! Two million new jobs!

What kind of jobs? Jobs that steal lives and demoralize a million people? Show me your jobs. Live a day doing that job. Record the whole thing and show me what the job is. You don’t get to brag about what you say you’ve created until you can really show me what it is. What it means. What it feels like to do it for a month. The commute, the managers, the coworkers, the food to suffer through, the paycheck mistakes, the amount of training, the annual recertifications, the morass.

You no longer get to brag about creating jobs because you don’t know what they are. What they do. How they fail us. How they will forever fail us, because they only take. We get a shabby paycheck, a ticket to spend years hooked on job security. The meaning of any job depends on us. Our lives are what magically transforms a day of work into that thing they call a job. That thing to get. And lose. Before getting another one. Then dying.

We all know what it means to have a job, even it means something different to all of us. Jobs are the most miraculous nonentities there are, pulling us toward their bosses, processes, outcomes, and repercussions. But they are only as important as the lack of them and the threats that surround us. The poverty. The hunger. The injury and disease. The pain. The loss of sanity. The trauma. The superstitious three letters of the talisman that will keep all those things at bay. A j-o-b will keep you safe. A job will keep you fed. A job will safely feed you more and more of itself until you’ve forgotten what fear and freedom taste like.  

So, no—no congratulations for creating a job. Damn a job to hell. Damn all jobs. Nothing is worth our time. No job is worth our lives. If they smirk and ask what you do, my friend, maybe shrug and say it’s classified.