It was during the years of office work that I caught on: I got two weeks' paid vacation per year. A year has 52 weeks. Even a comparatively unskilled, uneducated worker like me, who couldn't (still can't) do fractions or long division—even I had enough math to figure that two goes into 52 … how many times? Twenty-sic. [sic] Meaning it would take me 26 years on the job to accumulate one year for myself. And I could only have that in 26 pieces, so it wouldn't even feel like a year. In other words, no time was truly mine. My boss merely allowed me an illusion of freedom, a little space in which to catch my breath, in between the 50 weeks that I lived that he owned. My employer uses 26 years of my life for every year I get to keep. And what do I get in return for this enormous thing I am giving? What do I get in return for my life?
A paycheck that's as skimpy as they can get away with. If I'm lucky, some health insurance. (If I'm really lucky, the employer's definition of “health” will include my teeth and my eyes—maybe even my mind.) And, in a truly enlightened workplace, just enough pension or “profit-sharing” to keep me sweet but not enough to make life different. And that's it.
Amen! Now, only if my ex-boss would get this message. Or perhaps not—he may want to work himself to death serving his corporate masters. Nothing like dying at work to show dedication, eh?