Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Serving in Florida and on a hayrack

First, I will respond to the idea I found most engaging in the essay "Serving In Florida". What really rang true to me in this essay was the part about management being contentious and sometimes decreasing productivity instead of increasing it. I've had good managers before, but I've had such bad managers too that it's almost comical. The movie "Office Space" does a pretty good job of lampooning middle-management types, but I think Ehrenreich does a very effective job through her stories in the essay of showing this tension in reality. I think this is a big deal. There needs to be a sense of teamwork for work to be effective and meaningful and this is often lacking in so many jobs now. If we don't have a purpose in our work and have to fake all our attempts at teamwork and unity in the workplace, it does not bode well for us in the future. There is much to be learned from the stories in this essay and I found some of them heartbreaking and not just ironic.

Secondly, I will share a lighter anecdote about work. One of my first jobs was as a baleboy for my Uncle Elvern on our farm. He had a square-baling service where we went around the country and baled road-ditch hay that other people did not want. I first did this when I was about 11, as I was just barely strong and smart enough to lift and stack the bales on a moving rack. One thing I learned early on was that chewing snoose was something you should not do while trying to work in the blinding heat. It was an August day and so hot you would sweat just standing still, and we were working stacking hay. My Uncle Elvern always had an enourmous chaw of snoose in his mouth and it was Copenhagen brand. It was as dark as coffee and had a very earthy, distinctive smell. I asked my Uncle for some and I took a huge wad and put it in my cheek. About fifteen minutes later, I was working and started to feel very light-headed. I didn't want to admit it was affecting me, so I worked harder. Five minutes later, I was so dizzy that I fell off the hayrack into the field. I ended up puking all over the place. My Uncle Elvern could not have thought this was more funny, but I had learned an important lesson about smokeless tobacco: it's strong and can affect your work!

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