Posted by: Hannah | 08/11/2010

take this job and shove it

The internet yesterday was buzzing with two different stories of employee breaking points: the Dry Erase Girl and the JetBlue Flight Attendant.  Turned out the Dry Erase girl was a hoax, but that doesn’t change the essential facts – that one link was shared, blogged, and retweeted tens of thousands of times in a 24 hour period.  And Steven Slater has become, with one beer opened and one emergency slide deployed, an American folk hero.

Let me say for the record that I can totally understand the impulse to scream a la Homer Simpson “you people have stood in my way long enough!  I’m going to clown college!”  I’ve had my share of shitty jobs.  I worked in a call centre doing internet technical support during the days of dial-up, and I’m here to tell you, people get PISSED OFF when they can’t get their email or their favourite website is slow to load.  The contract I’m working out now is, well, an intellectually-stultifying collection of brainless tasks for a group of unprofessional bullies.

I have had many fantasies about telling bosses to cram it with walnuts.  I’m sure most of us have.  Which is, I’m sure, why these stories resonated so strongly with people.  People who, by and large, were sitting on their computers at work when they read them.

What I find so fascinating is that no one seems to be criticizing these people.  Apparently a lot of us are unhappy at work.  Maybe our supervisors are dicks.  Maybe we have to deal with the public all day long, and many of them are horrible and abusive.

Maybe we are just working jobs we hate because we have to.

Strikes me as a bit sad, and I don’t really have a bottom line point here.  I’ve spent a great deal of the past year thinking about work, and what career path I ultimately want to follow, and where my personal happiness and financial security can intersect.  These stories – and the dozens more that have come out, as more and more internet commenters confess their own dissatisfaction – are more fodder for my own internal dialogue about what will bring me peace.



  1. I’ve had my share of shit jobs–and believe me when you’ve done laundry in a chronic care nursing home for 5 years, “shit jobs” is a literal expression.

    I love my current job. I’m not always the best at it or most attentive to it, but I love it and know exactly how lucky I am to have it. Cue corny story: there’s a local pewter place in town here that makes pewter versions of all the bldgs on campus. We own both L’s bldg and my own. Each Christmas, we hang them on our tree and give thanks for meaningful work. I’ve seen too many academics burn out and get bitter. We never want to be those people.

    BTW, I suspected that dry-erase girl was a hoax from the start but that part of me that doubted my skepticism thought, “girl, don’t burn your bridges b/c it’s only the people who won’t be hiring you that will find this cute.” Having hired a couple of entitled slackers in my day, I sometimes see the view from the other side now.

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