By Atticus Hart
MAYBE it’s these lazy summer days, the sweet sound of songbirds, the intoxicating fragrance of flowers. But something has gotten ahold of me and I am just about as sick of working as I can be. I’m not talking about the maybe-it’s-time-to-take-a-couple-of-well-deserved-weeks-off kind of vacation, though standing hip deep in a cold Northern California river with fly rod in hand does sound particularly appealing.
I’m talking about being overcome by a profound tiredness, a sort of sick-and-tired of the mundane routine of commuting and convening the wherewithal it takes to accomplish the multitude of tasks associated with this tepid workaday life.
Blame it on Bob Dylan. He got me to thinking about this a few weeks back. I was reading Howard Sounes’ new biography Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan (Grove Press) about the rock icon and spending a lot of time spinning old Dylan discs that harbor a plethora of rock poetry. But one line from “Subterranean Homesick Blues” has stuck in my mind: “Twenty years of schooling and the they put you on the day shift.”
Look out kid, indeed.
I know, you’re thinking, Hey, man, you’re burned out, you’re in the wrong profession–there are a lot of worthwhile pursuits out there. And that may be true.
But I’m not alone in this funk–several friends have been drawn in to this disaffection when I’ve happened to bring it up of late. The consensus is, Hey, I’ve been working since I was 15–I’ve done my duty.
The fact is, Americans do work too hard. The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued a report that revealed that the much-ballyhooed economic boom of the Clinton era was the result of American workers increasing productivity by 5 percent each year (and you thought Wall Street was responsible for the good times). Now that the boom has turned to a bust and pink slips are piling up, employers have a new strategy: they want us to work harder. That’s worth remembering at this time of the year, when so many Europeans head off for their annual monthlong August vacation.
Some Americans already are thinking about that. Last night, as I sat stopped in gridlock traffic, my eyes scanned the bumper stickers on a black Ford pickup idling in front of me. The tiny bumper sticker placed behind the shiny chrome trailer hitch said it all: Fuck Work.
I couldn’t agree more.
Atticus Hart of Bodega Bay spends his spare time dreaming about fly fishing when he’s not locked in some tedious task and trying to make a buck.
From the July 19-25, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.