Working Full Time

I had a brief conversation yesterday about the benefits of working hourly vs working salary. I’ve done both in my life and if you asked me which I would prefer I would take the latter over the former, every time. Though as I sit here, typing this at 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, waiting for the coffee to kick in so I can go down to my Saw-ass basement and catch up on a few emails before my kids wake up, I see the appeal of being able to tell someone “sorry, I’ve worked my hours today and can work no more, you will need to either pay me more money for that or I’ll see you tomorrow.”

There’s three things at play here, I think. The first is the nature of the work that I do, which is magical in that it is tied to almost every aspect of my company’s business operations, yet in no way essential to the day-to-day maintenance of the company. My field is perhaps the first “nice to have,” but it remains outside the hierarchy of needs. The results is that I work in a field that requires a near-constant state of being on call without ever actually being materially meaningful.

The second is the trap that corporate work puts people in, which is the idea of “going above and beyond,” and “working extra hard to get noticed,” the kind of stuff that people 15 years younger than me are dismantling every day on social media. And, look, I don’t think they are wrong, nor do I think the idea is particularly unique – people have been feeling ground down by work, and as if they need to give as much of themselves as they can to get even, let alone get ahead, since fucking serfdom. I also think that hard work is a virtue, but that everyone must find the line where notions of “hard work” drift into something more sinister and dangerous.

The third thing here is working from home, which I have been very lucky to do since Rudy Gobert touched all those microphones two Marches ago. I worked from home for four years in the first real job of my career, and while I enjoyed aspects of it, the reality is that when you work from home, your work is never with you. The physical barrier of an office can be demoralizing and soul-eating, but it is also a boundary that lets a person say “the work is staying there, and when I go home I will be there.” Some people do not need this boundary, but I find that I do. Knowing my work is always waiting for me in the basement is a little like knowing there is a snake loose in the house: I can put it off for as long as I want, but eventually, I’m going to have to find the snake. Better get started now.

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