I often here this phrase — more time here than at home — at work. Usually it is nested in some variant form of an extended Joe Workforce maxim:
Best to keep a good attitude at work and do what you can to make things pleasant. After all, we spend more time here than at home.
I’ve even said it myself.
And I usually nod if someone else says it, offer verbal consent, or in some other way affirm the validity of it. But of late I have started thinking about it and have come to realize it is not only wrong-minded but perverse.
Oh, not the making things pleasant part. Such an attempt should be made in any situation, work or otherwise, as life on its own can already be quite difficult for all concerned without heaping unnecessary conflict upon it.
I mean the more time here than at home part.
People recite this disturbing line in a matter-of-fact fashion, take it as a given, and otherwise accept it as being the way of the world. But if it is the way of the world, it seems to be a strange one indeed if family is as important a value as people often claim it is.
I mean it is strange one where we are not horrified at such a thought.
Think of it another way. Say 100,000 heartbeats were left In your life. That’s about a day, maybe less. Would that last beat sound out joy at having spent 90,000 of them filing documents in the right place or making sure all phone calls were returned in a “timely” manner?
And yeah, I know about having a strong work ethic. I have a strong one myself, so don’t even go there. For If you go there, you’re totally missing the point. And yeah, yeah, I know work has to be done for a society to function, so don’t go there either as that’s missing the point too.
We have this false, somewhat iconic image of the hard-working “high-level” executive who is so swamped with work that they miss Bobby’s little league game or Susie’s dance recital. Such an image stays in our subconscious so we dogmatically accept faulty notions of “job-creators” and how the wealthy deserve what they have because of all their industrious sacrifice to society.
But the truth is, if you really are powerful and wealthy, you have the ability to flex your schedule so you can attend whatever function you choose. You have the resources to base your decisions on personal values rather than need. You have the luxury of spending — or not spending — more of your time with family.
Do you think people like Mitt Romney fret about whether they can get time off for a PTA meeting or worry about not being able to get it up for their spouses because work has left them so exhausted?
Hell, Don Marsh had so much of all three — ability, resources and luxury — he had enough to squander it on whores he had strewn across the country.
The people who truly miss out on spending time with family are the time-clock punchers funding the Don Marshes and the Mitt Romneys of the world.
They are the 99% who have such little ability to make their own family-prioritizing schedules that they have to make due with an obscene work model dressed up as a work ethic. I know this because I am one of those 99% and I am currently making due.
But as I grow older and ever closer to that last heartbeat, the absurdity of this twisted way of life gets to me.
Especially as I can hear the 1% laughing.