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The Working Dead
Old 06-15-2010, 01:15 PM   #1
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The Working Dead

As an ESR two years now I am so glad I am no longer part of the millions of "Working Dead". I had never heard of the term until I came across this article. Sadly I could really relate and I am glad that hard work, LBYM and a modest inheritance let me return to being alive again. Whatever I gave up it is now all worth it!!!!

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Old 06-15-2010, 02:34 PM   #2
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As an ESR two years now I am so glad I am no longer part of the millions of "Working Dead". I had never heard of the term until I came across this article. Sadly I could really relate and I am glad that hard work, LBYM and a modest inheritance let me return to being alive again. Whatever I gave up it is now all worth it!!!!

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I only had one job like this in my life, working for a municipal water company digging up lines. I didn't really mind getting out of the hot sun for a while, but it does sap your vitality and challenge your integrity.

The rest of my jobs were always piecework of one sort or another, and they were hard work. Once I worked in an encyclopedia selling crew. We would meet around 4 or so, drive out to some 'burb and get a beer and sandwich and the crew chief would tell us how much nookie he was getting. Then it was out to hit the street until ten of so, and believe me you were on. I sold so much that the credit department turned down half of them, which really angered me. Give me my commission, and just sell the damn notes! It's not my responsibility to check the customer for a pulse.


I think most of the people I know have to work pretty hard, though that clearly does not apply to the still-working who rack up high post counts on this board. That group should have an easy transition to FIRE.

Ha
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Old 06-15-2010, 02:53 PM   #3
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Amazing!
I w*rked for Uncle Sam for 18+ years, and the only day that even approached a "Working Dead" day was Friday. I used this day to organize the lab equipment and documentation, write or read technical papers, or finish experiments.
As a private sector contractor for 8+ years, I cannot recall a single down day unless there was a company picnic.
I would have gone stir crazy in a j*b like the article describes.
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:06 PM   #4
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I wouldn't call myself a working dead, but my work can be slow going sometimes (hence my frequent posting here, Ha). A few hours a day, my job requires that I monitor a machine that does the actual work for me. I may have to do some tweaking here and there but, for the most part, I have to stare at a computer screen to make sure that things run smoothly. That's the boring and worst part about my job (those hours can seem very long indeed). Then the fun part starts: data processing, analysis, reporting, designing the next run, etc... But I can't do any of that until the machine spews out the results.

The hardest jobs I've had usually involved working in a factory. Those jobs were physically hard and mentally numbing.
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:12 PM   #5
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I only had one job like this in my life, working for a municipal water company digging up lines. I didn't really mind getting out of the hot sun for a while, but it does sap your vitality and challenge your integrity.

The rest of my jobs were always piecework of one sort or another, and they were hard work. Once I worked in an encyclopedia selling crew. We would meet around 4 or so, drive out to some 'burb and get a beer and sandwich and the crew chief would tell us how much nookie he was getting. Then it was out to hit the street until ten of so, and believe me you were on. I sold so much that the credit department turned down half of them, which really angered me. Give me my commission, and just sell the damn notes! It's not my responsibility to check the customer for a pulse.


I think most of the people I know have to work pretty hard, though that clearly does not apply to the still-working who rack up high post counts on this board. That group should have an easy transition to FIRE.

Ha

Hmmmm lost some respect in you there Ha... I was recruited to be in a sales crew... but after a few days of their BS...

Their speil was to say they were giving away the set... and they kept trying to tell me how they were giving away the books... and of course you would want the annual update at a huge overinflated sum... I am not fool... so I asked 'do we 'give' away any without the annual update They looked at me like I was NOT with the program... well, I was not...

Sure... if someone wants to buy them... sell them... don't give me this BS about giving away stuff...

But then again... maybe you were in the honest group....
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:22 PM   #6
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But then again... maybe you were in the honest group....
Absolutely!!!

You perhaps should educate yourself a little more broadly before making such judgmental statements as some of those above. Finger pointing is never attractive, and quite a bit less so when it is uninformed.

None of this is relevant today, but my grandfather for example gave himself a good education in part by reading an encyclopedia that he scraped together enough money to buy with savings from his job pouring iron in a steel mill. Those same books put my Dad on a course to a university education. My own Dad bought us one, a Britannica- in today’s $$ in must have cost thousands. I don't know if it was a smart purchase, or LBYM, but his four children all completed at least a bachelor’s degree and 3/4 of us got advanced degrees. My Dad used to sit with me and read the books. It is when I first fell in love with Latin America- A for Argentina, don't you know.

It is likely true that a child with the genetics of a lizard is unlikely to get into Harvard just because his parents stretched to buy him or her an encyclopedia. But it is a powerful lesson that the parents love their kids and want them to study and believe in themselves and make something of themselves.

Ha
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:45 PM   #7
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There are many versions of this (Google it) but I like this one:

The Fisherman's parable

One day a fisherman was sitting by his boat while playing with his child on a beautiful beach; his fishing pole resting against the boat.

A wealthy businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. Curious and horrified at the sight of the fisherman wasting the day, the businessman asked, "Why aren't you out fishing?"

The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, "Because I already caught enough fish for one day."

The businessman followed, "Why don't you catch some more?"
"What would I do with them?" replied the fisherman.

"You could earn extra money," said the businessman, "then with the extra money, you could buy a bigger boat, go into deeper waters, and catch more fish. Then you would make enough money to buy nylon nets. With the nets, you could catch even more fish and make more money. With that money you could own two boats, maybe three boats. Eventually you could have a whole fleet of boats and be rich like me."

"Then what would I do?" asked the fisherman.

"Then," said the businessman, "you could really enjoy life."

The fisherman looked at the businessman quizzically and asked, "What do you think I am doing now?"
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Old 06-15-2010, 04:40 PM   #8
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Absolutely!!!

You perhaps should educate yourself a little more broadly before making such judgmental statements as some of those above. Finger pointing is never attractive, and quite a bit less so when it is uninformed.

None of this is relevant today, but my grandfather for example gave himself a good education in part by reading an encyclopedia that he scraped together enough money to buy with savings from his job pouring iron in a steel mill. Those same books put my Dad on a course to a university education. My own Dad bought us one, a Britannica- in todayís $$ in must have cost thousands. I don't know if it was a smart purchase, or LBYM, but his four children all completed at least a bachelorís degree and 3/4 of us got advanced degrees. My Dad used to sit with me and read the books. It is when I first fell in love with Latin America- A for Argentina, don't you know.

It is likely true that a child with the genetics of a lizard is unlikely to get into Harvard just because his parents stretched to buy him or her an encyclopedia. But it is a powerful lesson that the parents love their kids and want them to study and believe in themselves and make something of themselves.

Ha

Glad to hear it.... you did not see me write that I thought they were not a good investment.... just that the sales tactics employed by everybody that I ever saw were not honest... and I do mean everybody.... so, from my experience, if someone tells me they sold encyclopedias door to door... a 'used car salesman' comes to mind... and I have actually seen honest used car salesmen...

Sorry for the slight...
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Old 06-15-2010, 04:41 PM   #9
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This thread rather reminds me of "the fog of work:...
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Old 06-15-2010, 06:33 PM   #10
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I was part of the working dead. I worked at a state University. I had a great job for the area I was living in. I had five equal peers. I learned quickly that doing a better job, doing more work, exceling in every measurable metric got me no where. No additional pay, no plum assignments, no room for promotion. Keep up with the lowest common denominator in the group brought the same rewards as being the best. Why bust my ass for for the sheer pleasure of busting my ass. I suspect there are other places where senority is more important pay wise than merit. I know at the University where I worked lack of recognition and incentives bred mediocrity in the workforce. I paid my dues, glad it's behind me in my eraly 50's.
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Old 06-15-2010, 06:57 PM   #11
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I was part of the working dead.
You played with Jerry Garcia!?!? Uh...OK, sorry - wrong Dead...
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:25 PM   #12
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You played with Jerry Garcia!?!? Uh...OK, sorry - wrong Dead...
Thought the same thing REWahoo. Particularly with respect to Workingman's Dead. One of their best albums.

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Old 06-15-2010, 09:34 PM   #13
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One of the best articles I've read which puts the working dead in perspective is the Gervais Principle on Ribbonfarm. He does an analysis of The Office to illustrate how it works. Basically, the working world can be divided in "losers" (the working dead), the "clueless" (the managers), and the "sociopaths" (the executives). The terms are not indicative of their normal meaning. For instance, the losers are not really losers from an efficiency perspective; they put in the minimum amount of effort for the maximum pay. The clueless are those who bought into the whole careerism way of life without knowing what their overall role is. (In contrast the losers fully understand what their role is). The clueless are essentially being exploited by the sociopaths, who like the losers, understand how the system works, only they sit on top and control it.
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:32 AM   #14
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I wonder how the author would have felt about standing watch on a nuclear reactor that stayed at constant power* for over six hours.

*Technically, for you reactor dynamics geeks, the power level was changing due to a samarium transient. But the fact that we could even observe the samarium "transient", let alone calculate its effect on critical rod height, gives you an idea of just how boring steady-state the power was.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:09 AM   #15
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I was part of the working dead. I worked at a state University. I had a great job for the area I was living in. I had five equal peers. I learned quickly that doing a better job, doing more work, exceling in every measurable metric got me no where. No additional pay, no plum assignments, no room for promotion. Keep up with the lowest common denominator in the group brought the same rewards as being the best. Why bust my ass for for the sheer pleasure of busting my ass. I suspect there are other places where senority is more important pay wise than merit. I know at the University where I worked lack of recognition and incentives bred mediocrity in the workforce. I paid my dues, glad it's behind me in my eraly 50's.
I am in a similar job and frankly I hate it. There is no recognition for smarts or a job well done, and any trace of ambition is rebuffed with words to the effect that you have to wait your turn. Frankly, the key skill to get ahead here seems to be ass kissing, which I refuse to lower myself to.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:52 AM   #16
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I am in a similar job and frankly I hate it. There is no recognition for smarts or a job well done, and any trace of ambition is rebuffed with words to the effect that you have to wait your turn. Frankly, the key skill to get ahead here seems to be ass kissing, which I refuse to lower myself to.
You need to get yourself out of there! I know the minor little detail of earning a living is a factor, but what a dreary existence.
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:09 AM   #17
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I am in a similar job and frankly I hate it.
There's a explanation for that:

How to keep someone with you forever

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All of these things work together to make a bad workplace or a bad relationship addictive. You're run off your feet putting out fires and keeping things going, your own world will collapse if you stop, and every so often you succeed for a moment and create something bigger than yourself. Things will get better soon. You can't stop believing that. If you stop believing, you won't be able to go on, and you can't not go on because everything you have and everything you are is tied into making this thing work. You can't see any way out because there are always all these things stopping you, and you could try this thing but that would take time and money, and you don't have either, and you've been told that you'll get both eventually when that other thing happens, and pushing won't make that thing happen so it's better to keep your head down and wait. After a while the stress and panic feel normal, so when you're not riding the edge, you feel twitchy because you know that the lull doesn't mean things are better, it means you're not aware yet of what's going wrong. And the system or the partner always, always obliges with a new crisis.
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:17 AM   #18
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Funny, but I have compared this job to being in a relationship with an alcoholic.

Actually, I have had enough and am looking.
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Old 06-16-2010, 10:18 AM   #19
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Actually, I have had enough and am looking.
We're looking forward to your stories after you leave that place... and perhaps even the WSJ article!
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Old 06-16-2010, 10:40 AM   #20
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We're looking forward to your stories after you leave that place... and perhaps even the WSJ article!
Not especially interested in going to jail, so do not hold your breath.
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