You Can Quote Me On That

In an economic downturn...

My working life started in the late sixties and employment in my younger life spanned the seventies all the way through to the economic recession of 1982-83. By that time I was almost thirty and had gotten used to the idea that I couldn't control the macro economy and long prior made the decision that I could control my own micro economic destiny. It wasn't always easy or uplifting, since my working world wasn't what I envisioned, somehow I managed though and learned from it.

Ringing in my ears from the beginning was my father and my aunt's refrain "In an economic downturn, get a job, any job and keep that job, until the economy clearly gets better." It was a result of their coming of age during the 1930s Depression. It was reinforced by mother's chorus "Don't complain and be thankful you have a job when so many people are out of work." It was complemented by the common saying of the time "This is a recession if you have a job, a depression if you don't."

I'm mystified in this current economic era why so many people who do have a job, complain about every little thing and especially about not getting a pay raise. I am bewildered that someone who has maintained a job, didn't get laid off or a salary reduction, has missed that there are a lot of people who would take their job in minute at a lower wage. It is also enigmatic to me why so many people feel they are entitled to a job or pay better than they are skilled for and won't take a job that is available. No one is overqualified in this economy, we all live in post-Katrina New Orleans now. Are they so clueless about the difficulty of millions of unemployed and underemployed people, that would like a job, any job and keep it, at any pay?

If you're employed and dissatisfied, please quit and discover what so many unemployed and underemployed people have. It will change your outlook on life, I guarantee it.


  1. The trouble is that employees are powerless. I have been asked to do the work of two people, handed huge health insurance increases, been treated disrespectfully, and received no raise while management gave themselves large bonuses.

    I feel like dog whose been kicked too much. I still go to work and do my job(s), but don't expect me to be grateful for this treatment. My anger is about all I have left.

  2. I agree with what you say here, JR. I think a lot of people-and I'm as guilty as anyone of this at times-don't have the perspective to realize that they might have it better than they think they do. I'm not justifying bad management or rapacious taxes or other expenses and I'm not saying that work is all strawberries and cream, nor am I trying to say that a positive attitude toward work will make it all better. I'm just saying that some people are truly in dire straits at work, while others take every opportunity to complain about ANYTHING just to hear themselves complain. My bewilderment lies in the behaviors of the latter, because they are also (in my experience) also the ones talking about the new guns they bought or the snowboarding trip they got back from or...you get it.

    Some people truly do have crappy work situations, and I completely sympathize with them. Those are the people I would wish to help if I could, not the loudest complainers I hear every day.

    I guess I just try to appreciate the good parts of the job I have, keep my complaining about the bad parts to a minimum (and NEVER complain at work), and try to enjoy life outside of work enough that I can "go off someplace" to it when work gets to be too much (which it does for everybody). I also think that realizing there is no loyalty in business today is a liberating thing; it makes me feel free to try to come up with my own business and leave theirs without the slightest tinge of regret. That may or may not happen, but I think that knowing it's possible is invaluable for my optimism, happiness, and sanity.

    I'm gonna shut up, because I have to some time.

    Great post, JR!

  3. In the 70s and 80s I had a job I found incredibly boring, stifling and at times absolutely hated but I needed it and there were no other jobs in the area worth taking. So I stuck with it and the key was viewing it as an income and since we were constantly having hours cut for weeks at a time, I decided to use the any time out of work to occupy myself with stuff I liked to do. Believe I fully understand about working for 15 years at a job that I neither liked and was doing a lot less than what I could do and didn't pay very well.

    Fortunately I have a job now I like, although its real benefit is relatively cheap, good medical benefits. Sometimes I get 20 hours a week, such as during holiday season from before Thanksgiving until now when it's starting to pick up to 25-30 hours, other times I get 40-60 hours a week, mainly in the spring and summer. It's a constant juggling act of money but I use the time off to my best advantage. When I work a lot of hours, I have no time to myself so I save money for the lean months. It's a good company that is well run but that also means they're cheap, including with their wages.

    It's still far better than the job I had right before the crash, that I hated every minute of, at a renown company with a now disreputable reputation. I took my current job because I had to leave the other company and now they're laying off by the thousands, so count me as underemployed and ok with it.

    I learned a long time ago "don't love the company because it won't love you back." Being angry about the situation only turns on you because the company doesn’t care, they just want you to produce. You do have the power to figure out how to deal and cope with the situation in a way that doesn’t eat you up inside, which always ends up showing up to the outside world, making matters worse.

    I understand the struggle of a crappy job but I'm staring at statistics where millions of Americans are going through their life savings and been unemployed for 2-3 years. So when I hear former co-workers, still employed and unlikely to be laid of, gripe it kind of bugs me. Everyone I work with now took this job because they had lost their previous one and we're all glad to have some income and benefits.

    It also gives me time to get some more education and as you suggest Mike, figure out my own business or at least a way to get extra income on the side.

    (I think I just wrote my follow up blog…)