We know, this shit’s obvious. It’s all written out in your contract. You should not be discriminated against, you should be on time, you should not be asked to work more than the required hours in a given period, you should be alert and drug-free when reporting for work, etcetera, etcetera. Is that what we’re getting at here? Not really. What we are moved to talk about today is the more basic matter of what is not being sold when you accept a wage as an employee.
You are a biological miracle who defied genuinely impossible odds to arrive here in this place doing this thing for the very briefest of possible moments in time. With that being said, as a biological miracle with no time to waste, you do not have to take shit from other biological miracles who think their miracle is more miraculous than yours. You do not. Does this mean you should bounce your highly-evolved ass every time someone throws shade your way at work? No, because a biological miracle has got to do what a biological miracle has got to do. There’re bills to pay, and new biological miracles to feed, and it is well known that you don’t experience personal growth if all you do is run. But this aside – call it the practical reality of living an ordinary impossibility – you still deserve a reminder that when someone pays you a wage they aren’t buying the right to imply, indicate or tell you that your miracle doesn’t matter. That isn’t for sale.
And if, for whatever reason, you find yourself having to stand there and take that sort of shit for awhile, in the name of whatever greater good you are trying to get done (up to and including simple survival), then hold on all the tighter. You take that thing that isn’t for sale, your singularity, and you put it in a fire-proof, bomb-proof, asshole-proof box in the very center of your body. And you weld that box shut from the inside and paint it to look like a kidney, and you keep it safe and only tell the good folks, the other miracles who don’t want to take your miracle away, that it is still there, shining, untarnished by time, abuse, and the wearing grittiness of living even so brief a life. You let them know that you didn’t lose it, you didn’t sell it, you still have it. And apart from getting to share that fact with someone, you may well be rewarded with a glimpse inside these others’ own kidney-painted, asshole-proof boxes too.
So, yes, do follow your employers code of conduct, don’t accept unsafe working conditions. Do make sure your workspace is tidy and task lists complete at the end of each day, don’t tolerate harassment in any form. Do what you should, don’t accept what you shouldn’t. But above all else, don’t forget that you are a walking, talking, impossibility. And if – by some remote chance because there are so few of you out there – you think you may at times have been one of those assholes who tried to make someone feel a little less than the truly astounding thing that they are, then consider how many times I just wrote the word ‘miracle’. Ponder what that says about my limitations as a writer, and also the importance of your responsibility as a manager of fellow miracles; to treat them gently, and to keep some perspective when you are on the verge of yelling at one of them because the printer is out of toner. That is a miracle you are speaking to. About a printer. Good chat.