When all you want to do volunteer for literacy and racial justice causes but you can’t get Medicare until you are 65 and can’t afford to buy health insurance on the open market so you are stuck working for The Man

This is how corporate America traps you

Yesterday, I got to see my former boss and two of my former co-workers. I hadn’t seen them since December 2019, when I lost my job at that company.

I loved that boss and those co-workers. When that job was good, it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

That boss is one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. We will be friends forever. It was wonderful to work for someone really smart (trust me – or maybe you already know this?) it is really rare to have an intelligent boss. It is also rare to have a collaborative boss who says, Yeah, that might not work but let’s try it! And if it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else!

Boss and I had so much fun. I miss working with him. I miss it so much. He spoiled me for all bosses who might ever follow him.

And my co-workers were equally lovely. Honestly, once you get used to working with super bright people, it’s hard to go back.

After I had been at that job a few weeks – it was in the R&D group of an engineering company, one of the engineers asked me how it was going.

Me: OMG I am the stupidest person in this group!



Engineer: You seem bright enough to me.

Me: Hahahahaha!

Old friend, later, after I told him the story: Yeah, he didn’t understand that what you were really saying was, I am so relieved that I am no longer working with complete idiots.

Which – was the case.

I had left a toxic job for the new job with the R&D engineers.

I started looking for a new job the week after I started at toxic job. Toxic job was an internal move that they had known about for a month and yet, when I got there, they didn’t have a space or a computer for me. That was one of many prompts for me to start looking for a new job.

The board fired the toxic job CEO a few months after I quit, so I am not making this up. The CEO was awful – some people quit by not coming back from lunch.

And, understandably, with such awful leadership, people were not invested in the work and put in no extra effort. Even more understandably, the company did not retain good people. The people who remained were not particularly motivated and although there were a few bright lights, there were also some that were – not.

So anyway. Good Boss and Good Co-workers and I had lunch and it was so fun to see them.

I explained that I had taken a huge pay cut with my new job. (Although I don’t know if it counts as a pay cut if you go from unemployed to employed.)

Me: It’s OK, though. I knew that’s what the job paid and I took it. It has health insurance. I have a job. I am very fortunate. It’s a good problem to have. But – I am being paid a low salary but am doing high-level work. That’s what I don’t like. I don’t want all that responsibility and stress.

Good Boss: Maybe there’s a path for growth? Maybe they’ll see how great you are and raise your pay?

Me: I don’t want my pay to increase to match my responsibilities! I want my responsibilities to go down to match my pay!

And that, my friends, is the dream.

None of us are happy with our jobs now, all for different reasons.

But we all want the same thing: as little work as possible plus health insurance.

Work that we turn off as soon as we walk out of the office.

We are all done. DONE.

Good Boss: Yeah, I’ve looked into working at Home Depot.

Co-worker: I think the mistake many people make is asking, “How much do I need to survive?” The real question is, “How little do I need to survive?”

(They are both very smart engineers, making very good money.)

Like I said. We are DONE.

These are My People.

4 thoughts on “When all you want to do volunteer for literacy and racial justice causes but you can’t get Medicare until you are 65 and can’t afford to buy health insurance on the open market so you are stuck working for The Man

  1. There is something magic about feeling productive. And there is something about the US that has tricked many/most people into at least partly feeling like volunteer work – because it is not paid – is less productive/worthwhile than work you are paid for: after all, work you are paid for is, by definition, something that someone is willing to pay for (we are screwed up).

    So, I guess, I’d like to:
    1. feel productive
    2. feel productive even if money and status/prestige isn’t involved
    3. be independent from feeling productive, because that isn’t ultimately the value of a human anyway.

    Then there’s burnout and other things that make the degrees of work commonly available (40+ hrs/week for non-menial work, usually) entirely unappealing to individuals. And the corporate habit of squeezing more and more out of each worker, which makes more jobs unsustainable for humans who are alive and who have interests in addition to their day jobs. And… yeah. It’s all a mess.

    But also yeah, I like the people who have realized there isn’t anything they *want* at the top of the ladder they’re being told to climb, and who are looking at alternatives beyond what they’ve been sold as to how to live successfully! (In my opinion, this also confirms your view of them as smart…)


  2. Yeah, I miss my last job in that regard too. The people where I am now are nice but not SMART and I miss being challenged.


  3. Yeah….I quit my RN job to work as a package handler because nurses are treated like garbage. Took a huge paycut but everything else in my life is better. The health insurance is amazing – way better than my last hospital – and my biceps are huge.


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