Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wage Slave (yeah... that's what you are)

Hell, it's been a long time.

Let me say that today I wrote the words "wage" and "slave" on my arms. And it's not because of the traditional vision of a wageslave. I did this out of rage and helplessness or hopelessness. Sadly. But I realized today what it means to be a wage slave.

Not a slave to your boss, but to profit. A profit-slave may be the more accurate term. Today, I had helped this lady on the phone with some data that we sent to her. However, at the end of the (admittedly) long conversation, after hanging up, my boss started to get a little upset, raising his voice and saying how I should have them go through him first, because he has to charge them money for "lost time" that they're taking from me. And I understand his point.

Oh wait, I must mention, that prior to the hang up, the lady on the other end was very nice and said "thank you, you've been so helpful." And it made me happy to hear that, that someone's day was made easier by my help. So imagine how startled I was when my boss had raised his voice right after that. Not only NOT thanking me, but reprimanding me.

I told him, twice, firmly, "Do not yell at me." and he kept with the louder voice... Again: Do not yell at me. He stopped, and we got to the task at hand, which he had initially come to discuss. Now, he left shortly after, and I was ragey by this time, so I punched the table. Crying. See, I get these little "fits"... I have to contain my rage, or it's not pretty, so I hold it in, and then I just cry and let it out that way.

But in that crying, it occurred to me, that here I was, being a human... Helping someone, honestly, and just doing it because it's something RIGHT to do. But then, money becomes involved, and a profit has to be made, which means we have to charge for your time, and it becomes a commodity, and the whole process of human interaction is thus mediated through economic transaction, and it all becomes a game of numbers.

So there I am, realizing that I'm enslaved in my relations with other people during work time to a commodity, earning money, and if I'm not, I'm being "bad" or whoever is distracting me is "bad" because we're not making profit.

And I felt bad for my boss then, because I knew that he was just as much a victim of this as I am. He HAS to think that way because he runs a business.

So, imagine my shock, when he calls me up later, and I grab the phone expecting him to ask me for some information, or have me run something through the computer... And out come the words, "Hey, Dave, I'm sorry for yelling at you earlier."

And I told him it was alright... Because it was by then. I think he felt bad. I felt bad for making him feel bad, which is a pathetic issue I have... This horrid guilt complex I have. Anyways, I had gone from anger to some sort of pity/compassion (a half blend of the two, which is weird to me...)

So, I had ended up surreptitiously sending an e-mail of the file that I had told the lady on the phone from the other company that I was going to send (after initially fearing that I couldn't rebuild it... but after a bit of thought, i figured out a way to do it.)

I sent it, and she thanked me much (this was after her reply to my informing her of my boss's order to go through him before me) Can you say convoluted? Again, it made me feel good. And I was glad that I sorta broke the rules. However, I had promised her this file on the phone, and if I figured out a way to deliver it, I wouldn't feel right not giving it.

I broke the wage-slave cycle by refusing to submit to it's demands of profit (and honesty before the profit machine) because I gave my word to another human and fulfilled that before bowing to Mammon.