I bring up fast food jobs a lot in these types of articles because I believe they're among the most clockwork efficient workplaces on the planet. For the most part, they can hire almost anyone off the street and plug them right into the mix, getting pretty much the same results with any crew. If one of those people happen to get sick, they can call someone else in, or the manager can jump into that spot. A few minor adjustments and the machine keeps turning. No problem.
But call in sick as a judge, and court fucking stops. Even back down on that fast food level, the higher you climb on the corporate chain, the results get progressively worse for being absent.
Remember when Bill Gates got the flu back in '98?
For instance, on the workers' side, we always hear the same thing when the manager crashes her Lamborghini Diablo and has to miss a week: "When she's not around, this place runs so much smoother." No, it just runs with less stress on you because you don't have someone looking over your shoulder, ready to fire your ass for rubbing your balls on the lettuce. Yes, basic operations get done because you're used to working in patterns, and it doesn't take a manager to continually tell you how to do that. But keep that manager out of the picture long enough, and everything goes to hell. All of that work that she normally takes care of without the knowledge of the rest of the crew starts piling up, and nobody else has the skills or training to even know where to begin.
Eventually they have to find someone who can make the work schedule, order stock from suppliers, do payroll, organize advertising, communicate with the corporate office, hire new workers when the lettuce scandal goes public ...
If you're that manager, you're dreading every second that you're not at work because while you're gone, there is an enormous hole that isn't getting filled, and you know how much you're going to come back to. You have a very specific skill set that cannot be replaced on a whim, and that's why yours is called a career, while the teenager making fries is working a job.
"I prefer the term 'potato technician,' asshole."
It's all about how much the company relies on you to be available at any given moment, and they don't trust just anyone to do that. If they did, every job would be a career, and all the lower end tasks would be performed by robots and people from Wyoming.
Why That's a Good Thing
Being relied upon means job security, and that is one of the most valuable assets you'll ever acquire in the workforce. When you're in a position of being irreplaceable, you'll find that companies are much more liberal with things like raises, time off, benefits and even the tone they take when they speak to you. They know you're important, and they want to keep you around. As far as careers go, there is no greater feeling. Well, maybe getting away with shitting on the floor, but if you're smart like me, you have that written into your contract anyway, so that's a given.
Oh, and 9 a.m. onward is "casual" time.
As far as life in general, it teaches you how to be a problem solver. And I'm telling you, nothing gets done faster than when you're the one fixing things. There's liberation in knowing that you don't have to depend on other people to do things for you.
Whenever I talk about my work hours, I inevitably get a friend or family member telling me, "You need to slow down and learn to relax before you give yourself an ulcer." They talk about how unhealthy it is to live under that much stress, picturing me blocking out every other facet of my life to appease the ever-looming Work Overlord.
The problem is that they're still using the same frame of mind that they were in when they worked a crappy job that they hated. They're assuming that what I'm doing is stressful and taxing, and it's just not. When you have a job that provides a reward, working a 16-hour day is no more taxing than spending a day on the beach or laying around, playing a video game. And I'm not talking about a paycheck type of reward. I mean the satisfaction of seeing the end result of something you created. I don't care if it's writing dick jokes, building a homeless shelter or seeing your store break a sales record. Seeing your work pay off in a tangible way is the fuel that keeps the rocket going. But my family has never experienced that, so they tell me that I need to find a stress release, not understanding that my work is my stress release.
"Come on, man. There's got to be a way to make anal bleeding funny."
I will typically have 60 hours invested into my work before the end of the fourth day. Aside from doing it because I love it, I also do it so that when the weekend rolls around, I have time to spend with my family and friends. What I'm not doing is locking myself inside seven days a week and pecking on a keyboard until blood comes out of my eyes.
Slow down and enjoy life? Fuck that. I did that for over 30 years, and it got me nowhere but poor. I'd rather speed up and enjoy life because I've since learned that the harder I work, the easier the rest of life becomes. Not just for me, but for my fiancee, my kids and the bill collectors who don't have to deal with my cursing anymore.
"Listen up, jackoff, I will bend you over and fuck you in HALF!"
Why That's a Good Thing
Most people don't have the stamina to put in hours like that, and the world doesn't expect them to. Hell, personally, I don't want them to. The more people who are able and willing to pull those kinds of work weeks, the less of an advantage I have -- It's one less thing I have going in my favor, and believe me, I'll take everything I can get, because I don't have much to begin with.
But if you do happen to find something that provides the sort of satisfaction that makes you want to do more of it, and people are actually handing you money for it ... take advantage of that shit for as long as you can. Someone can fill in for you when you're dead.
For more Cheese, check out 4 Awful Ways The Internet Is Tainting Everything Else and 5 Reasons Money Can Buy Happiness.