Last night, I dreamed that I had a brand new job. No, it was a real dream, not a figurative one.
I was at this great big hotel, or hostel, where all the employees were milling around, living, talking, preparing to go to work.
But as I sat near a room, I overheard some of the employees discussing in hushed tones. They were talking about a friend or a cousin who was trapped in trying to pay off the employer, endlessly. The new faceless employer was covertly owning and enslaving people. People were trying to buy their freedom from the job. Some people were abusing substances, and the employer was facilitating their addiction.
I realized my new job was a total loss of freedom. A disconnection from yourself. It was a terrible thing. It was a mafia. It was a system where you would get consumed and never escape. After the celebratory moment where you land the job, become identified with the status of employment and salary, you discover you are trapped forever.
Then I looked at my watch, and realized I was late to work. I freaked out, and thought, I must get to work! I’m late!
Capitalism? The time-bound enslavement and apportionment of humans in hours and minutes? The job, the work that you feel bound to, identified by, even when it destroys you?
In most cases, it sounds like the very nature of work today. We struggle to carve out an existence, a weekend, maybe if we’re lucky a vacation once or twice a year, – around the Pac-Man of work. Work threatens our hobbies, our leisure, our families, our marriages, our children.
When my daughter was six, she used to say, “When I grow up, I will have 100 children. And I will not go to work, so my children are not sad.”
And yet, without work, we are worthless. The “job” defines us. We emerge from high school and college, shiny and hopeful. We parade our cv’s around. If no faceless corporation checks our teeth and our muscles and takes possession of all our working hours, we hang our heads in shame: we have failed. We are without value. Our value is defined by the employer.
When I sought a career, I sought freedom. I saw how many women who didn’t have professional careers struggled to be beautiful, accomplished cooks, excellent housekeepers, and elegant, polite ladies, and celebrated the moment when Someone put a ring on all that. Without that Man, their futures were uncertain. Who would give them a home after their parents died?
I said, f*** that. I’ll be a person in my own right. I’ll put value to myself. I’ll earn my own living and enjoy my work and my leisure.
Then I discovered employment under Western capitalism.
That was the dream.