A personal message to my friends in the Occupy movement
Hello, children. I know things are tough right now. I know you took out a loan you can’t afford to get a degree nobody needs, and now you can’t find the perfect job so you can live like the people you see on TV. It’s not fair.
Well, I’ve been where you are. Please indulge an old man for a moment while I bore you with my life story:
When I graduated from college, long, long ago, I had trouble finding a good job. I had moved back in with my parents, and nothing was happening. At that point, my generation didn’t realize we had the option of marching around and demanding the things we wanted out of life, so I took the easy way out. I moved out of my parents’ house and found a cheap apartment in a bigger city with a college friend. To pay the rent, I flipped pizzas. After a few months of that, I found a job doing data entry. The pay wasn’t much better, so I got another job on weekends, working 13-hour days running the reception desk at a drug, alcohol, and psychiatric treatment center.
During this time I was sending out resumes, trying to get a job in publishing. After about 6 months of working two jobs I hated, 7 days a week, I was hired as a proofreader for a publisher of technical books. I got paid a low, low hourly wage to pore over page after page of the most tedious copy you can imagine, from 11 at night until 7 in the morning. It was considered a promotion to move to days, even though it was a 10% pay cut. I took it anyway after a few months, because it meant a better chance of being promoted to editor.
I can’t remember how long it took me to move up. Seemed like forever. But I proved my worth to my employer and landed the job, and for the next 8 years I edited computer books. It was the best job I could find with my English major. It wasn’t my dream job, not by a long shot, but I got to work with words and it paid the bills.
Then I got swept up in a mass layoff in early 2001, when the dot-com bubble broke. I moped around for a while, lived off my severance pay for a couple of months, and then became a freelance editor. I did that for another 8 years.
During that time I scrambled for whatever work I could get, with no benefits, some years living under the poverty level but never taking unemployment. A lot of the time I felt hopeless. I felt like my life was over. To keep myself from falling into despair, and simply to have something to, ahem, occupy my time, I began blogging under a dumb pen name. I used it as a creative outlet, and gradually I built up a small audience. I even made a little supplemental income from it. But mostly, I did it because I could do it, and there was nobody telling me not to.
This led, a mere decade later, to an arguably insane TV personality hiring me to blog for him full-time.
I’ve been doing that job for the last couple of years. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and I feel like I earn my keep, but it hasn’t always been easy. For example, I continued to work even after I got hit by a car and had two major surgeries to fix my shattered knee, and I’ve continued to work throughout all the recovery that has followed. Every day I try to justify the faith that’s been placed in me. None of what I’ve earned is guaranteed.
All of which leads me to my point:
Up yours, Harrison Schultz.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9FGVcjuR7o
And you know what? If this blogging deal falls apart, I have no problem going back to flipping pizzas. Or mopping floors. Or baking bread. Or waiting tables. Or any of the other jobs I’ve done to get by. There’s no shame in doing “menial” work, as this ridiculous Occupy spokeschild calls it. It’s not beneath me, and it certainly isn’t beneath a whiny, entitled man-baby like Harrison Schultz.
Oh, and: Up yours too, “Julia.”