Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blue Collar Envy

A couple years ago my kids asked me what I do for work. I explained that I sell computer hardware and software which allows big companies to virtualize the connections between their servers and back-end storage and network assets. They both looked at me with completely blank stares. So I simplified things and said that the equipment I sell allows the employees and customers of big companies to access data more quickly and efficiently. More blank stares followed by several logical questions:

“So Dad, do you build the equipment that you sell to the big companies?” they asked.

“Well no, we’ve got another company we use that manufactures and assembles the equipment to our specifications,” I responded.

Which induced puzzled looks followed by another question, “So do you install the equipment that you sell to these companies then?”

“Well no, I’ve got a team of guys who do the installs,” I replied.

More puzzled looks followed by, “So do you fix the equipment when it breaks then?”

“Well no, there’s another team of guys who do support and break/fix,” I answered calmly.

At this point their puzzled looks evolved into downright frustration, “So it sounds like you don’t do anything, Dad. What do you do all day after you leave the house and go to work?” they concluded.

“Well I go to meetings, and give presentations, and have lunches and dinners with customers…” I paused and then it hit me.

My kids were absolutely right, I don’t really DO anything. Which explains why the only fulfilling days I ever have at work are the days the commission checks hit my bank account. My kids have never asked me again about what I do for work. And I can only imagine what they must tell their friends I do for a living.

And there you have it, life in the white collar work force called sales. Earning a handsome wage without the benefit of developing, creating, or producing anything even the least bit physically tangible. It’s a real conundrum. I’m honestly jealous of those who are able to make a living with their hands.

Example: We bought the kids a ping pong table for Christmas this year. It came in a big box with about a thousand pieces. Dude at the store said it would take 2 ½ hours to assemble (you know where this is going). I started assembling the table at 9:00 pm on Christmas eve. I finished assembling the table just after 2:00 am on Christmas day. And I only had 3 pieces left over (which is normal right?). Anyhow, my inept construction skills aside, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I stood back and saw what I had created. And now I can’t pass by the play room without stopping to admire the table while donning a proud smile. I can only imagine this must be the same sense of accomplishment a construction worker feels after they finish building a house, or a mechanic feels after they fix a car, or even the guy at the pizza place feels after he cooks up the perfect pie. Yup – I’m afraid I’ve got a bad case of blue collar envy.

Ah, the simple life. An honest day’s work with something tangible to show for your efforts at the end of each shift. It sounds a lot less stressful and a lot more fulfilling than my job. Shit I’m only 38, perhaps it’s not too late for a career change. What do construction workers, mechanics, and pizza chefs make for a living anyway? What’s that? Never mind, suddenly this soul-sucking, slave-to-a-quota charade that I call a career, doesn’t sound so bad after all. Hey, don’t judge me - there are far worse things I could be than a money-grubbing sellout. See you at the top mother f*ckers.

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