Friday, June 02, 2006

Seriously Sick

While I was sick last week I kept debating the same thing, over and over, a billion times before I jumped in the car: should I go to work or stay home?

A recently Slashdotted story gave the argument more weight than usual. In particular I found the comments about the article compelling (comments in a Slashdot article compeling? What the...?). Given that I know of many people who are now getting yelled at for working only fourty hours a week and taking time off that they are allowed, I think work culture is definitely shifting to a permanent 50 hour work week. Not only that, life itself is getting more stressful. This isn't the idyllic America that everyone pictures, with two kids, a dog and a white picked fence. This is the America where two parents both work ten hours a day, families see each other on the weekends, costs of healthcare are growing at an exponential rate and drugs are being rammed down our throats at an ever growing rate. Looking at the haggard, exhausted looks on my pharmacist lately goes to show how she's starting to pull 60 hour weeks, too.

TheServerSide posted an article for comment about how not pacing yourself and limiting the hours per day is quite counterproductive. I'm definitely not a proponent of eXtreme Programming, but I definitely think the practice of keeping a "sustainable pace" makes immediate sense. If mental acuity is required for your job, letting an LCD backlight burn into your retinas for ten hours a day doesn't exactly help the cause.

We get sick, we can hardly focus enough to get behind the steering wheel and yet we go to sit behind our desks and infect everyone in the general proximity. Why? Because we're afraid. We're looked at as a liability, a cost in the general ledger. We're commoditized workers, something that can easily be purchased elsewhere at a discount. We're no longer seen as knowledge brokers or experts in a field. In this game you're either a company man, a power player to the end, or you're not.

Maybe that's not true. Maybe it's just suburbanite fear. Maybe the whispers behind walls are just subliminal messages meant to keep us tethered. Maybe I'm not paranoid, just everyone is out to get me.

I see how the people who spent their weekend behind a console are favored, and hear the rumblings when someone calls in sick for the second time in two weeks. And it's human nature to wonder what people are saying about me.

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