As I think back over my working career, I can think of lots of people that might be considered workaholics. It seemed to everyone on the job that the workaholic probably had a terrible family life, had problems with the kids, issues with the wife, deep in debt, or just did not have anything else better to do in life.
There was this one job that I think about from time to time. Our scheduled work week was 50 hours – 5 X 10 hour days, and the next week was about 7 hours – 7 X 10 hour days. When the supervisor said “we are a little low on work, anyone that wants to go home can”, well, I went home. the job was working on the night shift. During the summer, there were weeks when I only saw my kids for a few minutes a day. I felt more like slave labor then a modern day worker.
One day the supervisor walks up to me and wants to have a talk. He said something like “when I tell people that they can go home, and you accept, that tells me your lazy”.
Now what kind of carp is that? My supervisor says I can go home and see my family, but for some reason I am supposed to argue to stay at work? How does that work out? to me, that is a pretty screwed up outlook on life. Working 50 – 70, or more hours a week, and on night shift meant I spent very little time with my kids. For some reason, wanting to see my kids and spend time with them meant I was lazy?
Another job I had was working the weekend, 3 – 12 hour days. It might sound great working the weekend, but how was I and the family supposed to go and do anything without a full day off? During the summer was not so bad, but when the kids were in school, we could never go and spend the night anywhere – that meant no vacations.
When the supervisor spewed that garbage out of his mouth, I knew it was time to find another job.
Another job I worked at, we worked 2 weeks of days, 2 weeks of nights, 2 weeks of days, 2 weeks of nights, 2 weeks of days, 2 weeks of nights,,,,,, and so on. The only weekend off we got was the transition week from nights to days. The weekend between our 2 weeks of days we were scheduled to work. That meant the weekend I was off, I was also having to readjust my schedule. Which usually meant I was grumpy with the family.
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One backstabbing supervisor I worked for did not believe in paying workers what they were worth. He straight up told me, that if you pay an employee too good, they will not want to work the overtime. Ok? And? What is wrong with not wanting to spend all of your time at a job? But then again, that supervisors wife was fat and ugly, so no wonder he did not want to go home.
When the backstabbing supervisor died, I was like one of those munchkins off the Wizard of Oz. But instead of signing “the witch is dead, the witch is dead”, I was singing “the backstabber is dead, the backstabber is dead.” This was the type of scumbag that would tell you to do something, and if things went wrong, he would deny every telling you anything.
A couple of months ago my wife and I flew out to SHOT show in Las Vegas. While on the flight to Nevada, a lady from Australia was sitting next to us, while her friends sat across the isle. My wife and I started talking to the lady. Come to find out, the group were on a 2 – 3 week vacation. They had been to central America, some of the islands in the Caribbean, and finally to Las Vegas. Most employers in the USA would flip out if an employee asked for 3 weeks vacation time – and all three weeks back to back. Its hard enough getting an employer to give people off 1 week, much less 2 or 3 weeks.
So why are Americans such workaholics?
I think its in part to our “get er done” attitude. Give us a job, and we will get it done, regardless of what it takes. Its this “can do” attitude that made America great. Whether it was building rail roads in the 1800s, building planes, tanks and ships for World War II, or building the nuclear bomb, Americans got the job done.
Not all of my supervisors have been workaholics. Some of them believed in a separation of family time and work time. Do your job while at work, and take the evenings and weekends for the family.
My personal opinion, instead of a 40 hour work week, we need a 32 hour work week – 4 X 8 hour days. Depending on the size of the company, employers should be required to give their employees 2 – 4 weeks paid vacation yearly.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy life, but some people and their workaholic attitudes are opposed to enjoying anything but a hard days work.