My grandma lived a lot longer than my grandpa, but she didn't have to work or worry after his death because of his pension. Of course "pension" is a word practically unheard of these days, as is the concept of job loyalty, because of course, companies aren't loyal to their employees, so why would there be reciprocal feelings?
Still, as I sat down to read the paper this morning, I saw a photo of Google employees bowling. The accompanying article naming Google the best place to work in America talked about the high air quality there, and the commitment that this company has towards its employees.
But last night I listened to This American Life's Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory. I had never heard of Shenzhen nor Foxconn City until last night. This morning, I read The Times article detailing the difference between American and Chinese business culture. Specifically the article focused on the iPhone, but the overall theme applies to many, many products. It is unlikely that "Made in the USA" will be on more products than "Made in China."
There is no way that I'd agree to work for a company in which I'd have to live in a dormitory on a factory's campus and be on-call 24 hours a day. I would not sell my soul for a corporation. And I'm not alone. Sure, call us "Lazy Americans," but I'm living a life. I juggle many balls, but I also take time to watch one son in a golf tournament and another at a gymnastics meet. Yet, I have my electronics with me so that I can work in a pinch. Last Sunday I pulled out my laptop in a pizza parlor since I had a deadline and I knew I wouldn't make it home in time. (But, I was not willing to walk out of the gymnastics meet to go do the work in the car.) Work-life balance arguments abound here in the States, particularly surrounding women. But these mean nothing as compared to workers whose entire lives are spent for their company - and why?
I have no solution.
After all, if everyone were required to take vacation, it would be the one who "cheated" and worked instead of rested who would get ahead. It is the person willing to be on-call for longer than his coworker who gets the promotion. But in time, the person who didn't rest would make more mistakes. Accuracy will suffer because of speed. Why should quality of life be sacrificed for yet another dime that can't be spent in a positive way anyway? (Meanwhile, the big-wigs take longer vacations and buy bigger yachts because they saved money by taking that lowest bid: less money, faster production.)
I'm watching football this afternoon.
But, I'm not just lazy on the couch. I've done work today. And I did work yesterday. I work every day. People of my grandparents' generation say we are rude for bringing our phones everywhere: but if we don't, we will miss an urgent message from work or a client that requires our attention. (Yes - those very phones that someone sacrificed sleep over.) We are always connected, so we can always be commanded. If we are not available, then we will be left behind, since there is someone else who is "more available" than we are.
Alas, while there are definitely those in the states (usually unmarried, or without children,) the ultimate "someone else" lives in a dorm on the campus of a factory overseas. While some may say Americans have to buck up, I hope we never end up with that sort of obligation. Let's come up with a new strategy.
Let's go 49ers! (My grandpa would be proud.)