“Working for the rat race”

“Working for the rat race”

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash


You plan your conversation to impress the college bar
Just talking about your Mother and Daddy’s Jaguar
Wear your political t-shirt and sacred college scarf
Discussing the world’s situation but just for a laugh
You’ll be working for the rat race
You know you’re wasting your time
“Rat Race” by The Specials


“Almost half of U.S. workers (45%) wouldn’t wish their job on their worst enemy, according to a new survey from the Workforce Institute. The main reason? The majority of employees don’t view their job as their ‘calling.’ More than half (53%) of respondents reported they would choose a different profession if they could go back in time. The feeling of apathy is so strong that most workers surveyed said they would urge their children and other loved ones to pursue jobs that give them the chance to spend time with family but that are also personally meaningful and fulfilling.” –https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/theres-a-crisis-of-meaning-at-work-6100882/

“Looking for Meaning at Work? How to Find a Job That Doesn’t Suck” –https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/looking-for-meaning-at-work-how-to-find-a-job-that-doesnt-suck

Wow. That feels like a low bar – just tryna find something that doesn’t suck. And yet, in all honesty, it’s a valid point. Is there any feeling worse than a company rolling out a red carpet, getting you high on their propaganda, and then, when it’s too late to easily turn back, you realize the environment is terrible? 😟

“For centuries, few people made real choices about their working lives. Due to financial circumstances, location, and/or parental expectations, most followed well-worn paths. Then the internet came along to provide a window onto the world and democratize education through e-learning, language apps, coding courses, and more.

Corporations jumped in here too, of course, posting open position notices on job boards. This widened the playing field significantly, both for job seekers and those with roles to fill.

However, a lot of these jobs still sucked. As the late David Graeber wrote in his book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory: ‘Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at.'” -PC Mag, Ibid.

What an excellent summary we get there: “Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at.” It’s not as tidy as Sartre’s observation, “Hell is other people,” but it still gets the job done as it relates to Corporate America.

“Graeber also wrote that ‘a human being unable to have a meaningful impact on the world ceases to exist.’ Consulting firm McKinsey concurs. ‘When employees find their work to be meaningful, their performance improves by 33%, they are 75% more committed to their organization, and are 49% less likely to leave,’ it said in a 2021 report.” -PC Mag, Ibid.

The crappy thing to me about injecting the McKinsey study is like, “Oh hey, look over here. This is the reason why not forcing people into mind-numbing tasks is actually good for Corpo America!” 😣 There seems to be no commitment to doing something simply because it’s the right thing to do. Oh no. We must be assured we can make extra money from it and squeeze blood from a stone. Wait and see how many rainbow insignias come down on July 1st, for example.

“The reason a lot of jobs suck is that there are crazy bosses in the C-Suite and overbearing middle managers ready to make your life hell. This isn’t hard information to source, but it’s remarkable the amount of people who don’t do their research. One can’t complain that a job is unbearable if the evidence was always out there in plain sight.” -PC Mag, Ibid.

True. Regardless of the level, if your immediate supervisor is a jerk from hell, guess what: your life is gonna be a nightmare. If the C-Suite subscribes to every idiotic corporate fad that comes along and/or they are pushing hard for RTO and that’s not what you want, your life is gonna be a nightmare. Can you uncover this info in advance? Sometimes. I won’t sugarcoat it and tell you that it’s always easy to find that intel ahead of time. Quite frankly, some organizations do a fantastic job of hiding their demons until you’ve already started. Some companies outright lie. “Oh, did we say this role has zero travel? Well, um, now that you’re here, you should know that twice a year we expect you at the corporate HQ for a week of extroverted moronic team-building exercises that will make you want to die.” 😣

“This can be avoided by clear and direct questioning in the interview process, asking if they have a comprehensive employee handbook (and whether you’ll get a copy of it on day one—if not, run).” -PC Mag, Ibid.

I dunno how many companies would actually give a job seeker a copy of the employee handbook. Some might but I imagine most wouldn’t. If you receive a copy on Day 1 of employment and it’s full of insanity, I guess you could walk off right then and there, but what if you resigned from another role to take that one and you need the money? Discovering you’ve joined a corporate cult when you’re stuck there is heinous.

“[She – CorporateNatalie] suggests a careful scroll through the organization’s social media accounts to ensure their outlook matches your own.” -PC Mag, Ibid.


Yeeeeaahhhh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a company’s social media page that showed an outlook that matched my own. Except for my own. Here’s reality: these companies are not gonna post unflattering info or advertise, “Hey, this place is a f**king sweat shop and you’re gonna be miserable with us. Still interested? Apply using this link.” Not gonna happen, folks.

“Job seeking with purpose is often about being in the right place at the right time (with the right skills).” -PC Mag, Ibid.

And knowing the right people. Yeah, I’ll say it. I won’t BS you. Who. Do. You. Know? Are you standing there in the right place at the right time with the right skills AND a relationship with the right people?

The conspiracy theorist in me can’t leave this gem alone:

“Getting on the radar of potential employers, who are involved in meaningful work isn’t easy, but hackathons are a useful networking tool. … When I covered Samsung’s hackathon in Silicon Valley, and DARPA’s Hackfest at NASA Ames, HR personnel were on hand to talk to the winning teams at both events. It was an invaluable exposure to top brass for everyone there.” -PC Mag, Ibid.

Shameless plug for DARPA there, n’est-ce pas?

“The Economist has called DARPA the agency ‘that shaped the modern world,’ and pointed out that ‘Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine sits alongside weather satellites, GPS, drones, stealth technology, voice interfaces, the personal computer and the internet on the list of innovations for which DARPA can claim at least partial credit.’ Its track record of success has inspired governments around the world to launch similar research and development agencies.” –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA

It’s kinda funny that DARPA (formerly ARPA) was formed by Eisenhower in 1958 and then in 1961 during his farewell address, he warned the entire nation about a “military-industrial complex.” Such a weird coincidence, I guess.


I know I’m supposed to wrap this up with something cheerful or a list of hackneyed nonsense you’ve heard 100 times before. The main thing I’ll tell you is caveat emptor. If you go to work at a hellhole, you have to live with the consequences of it. You may or may not be able to suss out a true picture of the environment ahead of time. It’s worth the time and effort to try – you just have to keep it real with yourself that Corpo America holds a lot of cards that you and I do not.

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