I suddenly felt inclined to study the genesis of another traditionally American holiday and Wikipedia didn’t disappoint:
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
As with every major day of rest and barbecues — Americans are also assaulted with the pressure of spending hard earned money on items that have been supposedly generated for the purpose of making you feel less guilty — after you swipe that card.
Spending more than we can afford and living beyond our means is the only way to feel any measure of accomplishment. The system has done an immaculate job when it comes to the imprisonment of hard-working citizens who have willingly bought the narrative of the destination of dollars and cent.
Nobody questions the audacity of spending a month’s rate on the latest iPhone — which despite the hype surrounding improved functionalities — still fails to provide the basic capability of a communication device. We are disturbingly comfortable with outward lavishness — as a way numb the hybrid of our existence, which in most cases revolves around dead end jobs, stalled salaries and zero bonuses.
Yet, the workload increases without fail and managers unapologetically demand output that exceeds expectations. The shitty economy and bipolar job market has considerably reduced the value of the average worker.
If you’re locked into a position — the only alternative is to grin and bear it while searching for the impossible way out. Job seekers have to endure a rigorous interview process that often times leaves them too exhausted and disillusioned to negotiate an appropriate arrangement once an offer has been made.
It’s a cycle that has been spinning me around for as long as I would care to remember. Like most of you — I was raised to believe that hard-work and perseverance with splashes of ambition — were the key ingredients on the menu of a typical success story.
I was a late-starter in my field of choice, but I never allowed that fact to discourage my dream of being a full-time writer. I had spent the best years of my life, supporting the decadence of private bankers — and as mid-life began to slowly peek in — there was the euphoric need to step outside the lines of reason and finally make that leap.
It’s been four years since I convinced myself that the editorial realm would welcome me with open arms. There have been periods of fulfillment that lasted long enough to give me hope, but those have been few and far between.
For the most part — my burgeoning career as a paid writer with steady gigs and a day job in a newsroom — has led to this “half-empty” moment — on a day that is supposed to inspire my need to publicly enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Labor Day sucks — because for laborers like me — who have no choice but to commit to a system with pipes that are clogged with dreams that will never make it out alive — there is very little time for poolside selfies and the overpriced grills that block the view of shiny cars in the driveway that still haven’t been paid in full.
It sucks to be a laborer in these times of corporate deceit, which always hovered — before evolving into a full blown epidemic.
It especially sucks to be newly unemployed after dedicating more than a handful of months to a programming gig that recklessly devoured my patience while taking advantage of my high threshold for pain. It wasn’t the worst job in the world — until it became exactly that.
Despite the gratitude of finally making $26 per hour — reshuffling around sourced content — there was a bitter sense of irony at the fact that my job description required me to feed the masses mind-numbing fare, which directly sabotaged the integrity of a profession that no longer appeals to me.
Almost two weeks ago — someone from my staffing agency — called to tell me that due to the need for “restructuring” — my days of reproducing endless versions of “14 Ways To Save a Sexless Marriage” — would be coming to an end.
I processed the news by writing about it. I needed to convey why having a job has become costlier than its worth. Based on the claps and hearty responses — it was clear that what I shared resonated.
The feeling of vindication — fueled the last week of programming as I powered through the dizzying array of folders — with robotic delivery. And just when it seemed I could walk away from another thankless gig — unscathed — shit it the fan.
I was forced to remove my well-received rant because the company I used to work for — found out my true identity and punished me with legal threats. So, not only was I abruptly released from the privilege of a steady paycheck — I was also facing an infringement on an alternative source of income.
So, as I take in this moment of frustration — there is the desire to mock the shallowness of a holiday that hasn’t lived up to its impossible reputation. There is the need to reject the norm and recognize Labor Day as the one day a year that truly sucks — when you take the time to multiply your contribution against the assets you’ve not accumulated over the years of heavy toiling — and unactivated vacation days.
Labor Day is basically the celebrated reminder that you will always be ordered around like a circus monkey for chump change — for the rest of your American life.
For me, it’s the day that I will lazily move around the columns and rows on my wearied resume to make room for another short-lived gig that ended without my permission. It’s also a day for self-evaluation, self-reflection and the conclusion that a lot of us don’t have any choice but to spend the time we have left — dreaming about the life we can never afford.
Unless of course by some miracle — the iPhone stops demanding more than a month’s rent in order to secure those highly touted pixels.
While we wait for the things that can’t ever transpire — there is security that comes when you invest in the one thing that nobody can strip away — even when cowards try to intimidate the words you birthed with pride.
As someone I know almost as well as I know myself — once proclaimed:
I write for me and for you. I write for those of you who can relate and the ones who are lucky enough not to. I write because after five months of transferring garbage to clogged folders — I realize that I’m a relic. I write because words mean so much — now more than ever. I write because I accept that I miscalculated the market and set myself up for failure because I’m an artist — and that’s just what we do.
And we labor for when Labor Day will no longer suck — until then I’ll just keep writing until content programming is no longer a human endeavor.
What are your plans?