Today, I had a conversation with my boss about a co-worker who puts in crazy hours and is constantly agitated and sleep deprived. Over the weekend #first7jobs started trending on social media, this and more made my ponder life a little bit and here’s my findings:
Since I’ve moved to the US I have had several worrying changes with my health. Including:
- Putting on 30lbs
- I started getting really bad stomach pains every single evening\night
- I rarely got sick in Ireland, I started getting very sick 3 to 4 times a year
- Heart palpitations
- Constantly sighing (as my brother pointed out)
- Migraine headaches became more frequent
- I have a lingering cough for most of the year
- Lost interest in everything I use to have interest in
I’m fucking slow at the best of times. I never put everything together in a list before, either on paper or in my head, I just looked at each and tried to rationalize it. Like: you put on 30lbs because you eat like shit and you didn’t eat well the last two years in Ireland, so don’t blame America! Of course you’ll get sick more often, your body is adjusting to Arizona. The stomach pains have to be due to something you’re eating. (I even proved that assumption to be wrong by eliminating everything I usually consumed from my diet and took medication to no avail)… Prediabetic and prehypertension must be related to the rapid weight gain. The migraines are probably caused by dehydration. The cough and sighing is the dry air and of course you’ll lose interest in video games, you’re 31, it’s time to grow up…you can’t watch the premier league any more, it’s on at 7am etc.
Well, things change when I got fired from my job. I was unemployed for 4 weeks.
Sharpen your razor tongues and judging fingers for this millennial drivel…recently there’s been a viral trend on Twitter and Facebook for first 7 jobs. I listed mine:
I told my wife about it and she pointed out that I forgot my first job! She told me I was an altar boy. As an altar boy, it was usually just a once a week thing…some times we’d have to do Saturday and Sunday for an hour here or there. Some times we’d have to serve for a wedding or a funeral on a weekday but I never thought about it as a job…but hey, it was!! You went to school all week during the day, did homework in the evening and went to bed pretty early then you spent a few hours a week getting ready and serving at mass, all the while the pay was fucking lousy! We got a Mars bar from the priest at Christmas and usually about 5 pounds (Irish pounds) from the family for a wedding or funeral .(which looking back, I feel really bad for taking it but I didn’t know!)
After this long diatribe…thinking about all of this together. I realize, I have actually been working since I was about 10 years old! I’m 31 now…that’s 21 years of my life. Up until recently, the best period of my life was 6 weeks in the spring of 2007 when I quit my job on the spur of the moment. I walked through Galway city on a sunny Friday afternoon eating a 99, flirted with some girls in some shitty red Ford Fiesta and all was right with the world! That experience, that six weeks has helped me enormously to this day. It’s the longest stretch without working that I have had going on 10 years…When I get really down, I think back to that and know that life can be that great again.
This is a strange place for many reasons but one of those reasons is that it’s a right to work state. This means your employer can fire you without just cause but wait, you also have the ability to quit a job with no notice so you win too, right?…wrong, if you don’t give notice you won’t get a reference. Only the employers win.
When you are full time you work whatever hours are required and don’t get overtime pay. You get a set salary. But you get great benefits like training, which you will never get time to go to. You don’t get a pension if you are my age because pensions are not provided by most companies any more…that’s a luxury that the previous generations fucked us out of. You do get a 401k…for me, the best 401k program I got offered had a 4% match. Meaning my employer matched up to 4%…the worst I got was 1%. Well, wouldn’t you know it. My 401k has lost over 4% of it’s total value and considering overall the employers contribution was less than 4% of the total and the fact you get heavily penalized for taking out early, also you are not guaranteed a good return…well, you just gave control of your money to some firm that doesn’t give a shit about you…tough!
Well, now I’m a contractor! I have cast off the shackles of full time employment. I now work much less hours and get paid much more for it! If I have to work any overtime, I get properly compensated for it. I could be fired at any time but guess what? I could be fired at any time as a full time employee too! I don’t get paid time off but in a previous job, I was fired when I tried to take my paid time off 🙂 I don’t get a 401k…well, I bit the bullet and took all of the money out of my 401k anyways because I realized what I posted above…it’s a bullshit program, plus I personally believe putting my savings towards a home, is more in my short to long term interests at this moment in time.
The other day my wife said “hey, you haven’t complained about your stomach pains in a while”…she was right. I didn’t really notice but I haven’t been having stomach pains as regularly. I’ve just started exercising again (because I have time to!) and I have lost 6lbs. I have new interests like taking my son to go swimming! I don’t have to worry about phone calls, e-mails or instant messages from my boss.
Now that I put it together: High blood pressure, pre-diabetic, migraines, stomach pains, constantly sighing…getting really sick 3-4 times a year. Holy shit, I think I was dying slowly. Work was literally and yes I do mean literally killing me.
Some day I shall return to my hometown and embrace the lifestyle the place is famed for, the lifestyle I was never privileged enough to experience at length! Galway, I salute you! Maybe the graveyard of ambition isn’t such a negative title after all, eh? Live a long happy life broke or a short miserable life rich…I think I know which one I want. See yee in 2 years, fuckers! Keep the crusties unwashed and the skinny jeans FLAM-ING!