Birth. School. Work. Work. Work. Death

Quote of the Day:

Labor is prior to, and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.” –Abraham Lincoln

This morning TB read  this article posted on The article, titled “Why are you working so hard?” is about what the writer calls America’s love-hate obsession with work. It includes observations on American worklife as depicted on television and music and contrasts our view of the office with that of Europe. I found it interesting and in many ways applicable to my own thoughts on the subject. In particular I was interested to learn that many Americans are disaffected with careers they see as pointless and yearn to begin new jobs in which they are able to use their hands or at least be outdoors.

Coincidentally, I was yesterday listening to a radio show where the vacation habits of various countries were being compared to our own. I can’t recall the specifics I heard, so I looked a few up to share. Swedish workers are guaranteed by law 18 months maternity leave and 5 weeks per year paid vacation. In Finland they get 39 paid vacation days per year, in Great Britain and The Netherlands 28. The European Union guarantees a minimum of four weeks vacation for workers in member states. source Even in Japan, known for employees’ devotion to their employers, paid time off for vacation and national holidays is guaranteed at 25 days. source In America the average vacation allowed per full time worker is 10 days, and collectively, we leave three of those precious days per year on the table. The Esquire article included this nugget that I thought was a joke until I found it repeated in several other places: in Russia, the American phrase “work like a dog” is altered slightly; to convey the same meaning, they say “work like an American.”

“Work like an American.” You know, that both pisses me off and makes me proud at the same time. But the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off.

I think one way to deal with that anger is to misdirect it, in the great tradition of American ire. Take these cliches and shove ’em up your ass Russia!

  • Instead of “crazy as a loon” we’ll now say “crazy Ivan”
  • From now on, the Pot calls the Kettle “Russian.”
  • After a long night of drinking our new hangover cure will be called “hair of the commie”. And the curative drink will be known simply as “milk and vodka”.
  • “Last, but not least” from now on is “last, but not Boris.”
  • “Is the glass half full or half Siberian?”
  • “Like a bear in a China shop”
  • We’ll start keeping delicate information “under our ushankas.” (Ok, that’s pretty weak, but I had one more Russian stereotype that needed to be worked in and it turns out until today I never knew what those funny furry Russkie winter hats were called.)

Ahhh, now I feel better. Wait  a minute. I DON’T feel better. I think I need a vacation.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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3 Responses to Birth. School. Work. Work. Work. Death

  1. Jessie Lou says:

    Add a little Kalua (sp) to that milk and Vodka and you’ll have yourself a little white russian…..

    I think many people are in their present jobs, which they no longer like, because they thought that making money was the end all, be all and that particular job would give that to them. They have since found out it is not and/or won’t and now long to do something that they love. Even after all this time, I still like my job and feel quite lucky to have landed here. Some of the people I work with are not easy, but that is their problem, those Crazy Ivans!

  2. calicobebop says:

    Yeah, I guess it’s a kind of backwards compliment, but honestly – since when does dog = American?


  3. Are you happy to see me or is that a Russian in your pocket? (Yeah, I know it makes no sense, but they don’t.)

    A bird in the hand is…ok, I don’t even know that that one means in English. If I can put two hands in a bush, why do I care about a bird? Why is the bird in the room to begin with? Maybe I’m misconstruing that one.

    I suck at these. Back to work.

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