Friday, May 3, 2013

Blue Collar Baxter

I recently watched Office Space for the first time in years.  I appreciated it more than ever, now that I've had the experience of five miserable years working in an office.  During that miserable period of miserable coffee, miserable paper jams, and getting seventeen different (miserable) answers to the same question from management, I often daydreamed about leaving the white collar life behind me.  I want to be a blue collar man, man!  Alas, my dream has come true.  (Spoiler alert!  For a movie that came out in 1999!)  Much like Peter at the end of Office Space, I've traded my white collar for blue, though I'm not part of a cleanup crew.  (End spoiler alert!  For a movie that came out in 1999!)  I work in a warehouse.  My collar is blue.  And maybe someday I can open up my own 200 million dollar blue collar theme park!  Let me tell you about some of the joys I've found now that I'm a work-boots-wearin' man.

I'm in Better Shape!

When I worked in the office I mostly sat on my ass all day.  I had to work out (or rather, should have worked out) just to maintain my shabby physique.  Typing doesn't burn that many calories, and with about a hundred people working in the office, there was constantly birthday cake.  We had to celebrate everyone's birthday because apparently we were all seven years old.  Aside from all the cake, there was a potluck for every holiday, every quasi-holiday, and sometimes just because.  I'm never one to turn down free food, that's foolish in my opinion, but there was just too much.  I gained a lot of weight.  I had to buy bigger white collar shirts.  Yeah, I tried my best to keep fit, but since I often came home with computer-and-anger-fueled migraine headaches, I mostly just wanted to sleep.

Today I am in much better shape due to my work.  I load car parts onto trucks.  Most of them aren't even that heavy, so I'm not usually in danger of hurting my nuts, but it's a lot of repeated lifting, pushing, and pulling.  And a lot of walking because the warehouse is friggin' gigantic.  My comedian gut is shrinking and my arms are getting bigger.  The only downside is that I'm still unfamiliar with my own newfound strength.  I sometimes go to pick something up at my house and accidentally throw it.  Right now my life is the montage in every superhero movie where the main character is getting used to his powers.  I'll be out fighting crime in no time!

I Can Sleep!

Back in my white collar years I was quite the insomniac.  I would get home, crash for an hour or two if I had a headache or was tired from lack of sleep the night before, then be up for most of the night.  Not getting enough sleep sucks.  Every day I would repeat the process.  I'd arrive at work grumpy as a snapping turtle.  I would attempt to perk myself up with the lunchroom coffee, which tasted like somebody had poured hot water through a dirty sweat sock with one stale coffee bean it.  I eventually switched to tea, but it was moot anyway; the caffeine high would inevitably end with a caffeine crash.  More caffeine!  And some sugar!  By the afternoon I was usually a jittery mess and still very much in snapping turtle mode.

My sleep schedule was all screwed up.  And everything seems so much shittier when you're cranky from sleep deprivation.  But this is no longer a problem for me.  When I come home from work nowadays, I come home tired.  And not the kind of stressed-out-mentally-from-a-day's-worth-of-figuratively-eating-shovelfuls-of-shit tired, which is how I used to come home, but tired from actually using my body all day.  It's the kind of tired that actually feels kind of good.  I still stay up kind of late, as I've always been a bit of a night owl, but when I am ready for bed, I'm typically asleep within ten minutes.  This is a brand new experience for me, and it's great.

I can't explain all the weird murder dreams I've been having, but they may be the product of all the horror movies I've been watching.  Or perhaps because my work-buddy Joe unintentionally hit me in the head with a box the other night.  Maybe both.  I haven't murdered anybody in real life, as far as I know, so I'm not too worried about it.

I Can Fuckin' Say Fuck!

For whatever reason, in the white collar world you're expected to walk on eggshells, lest you accidentally offend somebody.  Shock!  Outrage!  Some people act like being offended is the worst possible thing that can happen to you.  As evidenced by the deterioration of my own body (and the fact that I was still one of the people in better shape at the office), I'd have to say that working in an office and giving up on yourself is much worse than being offended.  Okay, if somebody directly insults you to your face maybe it's alright to get offended, especially if the insult is unwarranted.  But if you're a grown-up that overhears something and is offended by it, it's time to reassess yourself.  Is an offhand comment, usually of the joking variety, really something to get worked up about?  Don't you have better things to worry yourself over?  And if foul language offends thee, you're living in the wrong society at the wrong time.  Get the fuck over it.

Freedom to let the cussin' flow is one of the blue collar benefits.  If I'm strapping a cage full of small parts to the wall of a truck and the buckle doesn't work correctly, I'm free to yell out "What the fuck, you fuckin' fuck!?" if I want to.  I try to be a bit more clever than that, but sometimes you've just gotta work the eff-bomb in as much as possible.  If I ever dropped a line like that or "You son of a bitch and a bastard!" while working in the office, people would look at me like I was some psychotic lunatic mass-murderin' loose cannon.  Because when you work in an office you have to suppress your natural outbursts, hold them in, and let them fester until they boil over and you really do become a psychotic lunatic mass-murderin' loose cannon.  Or at least do something rash like call your boss the c-word and quit.

Remember when Christian Bale freaked out a few years ago on the set of whatever inferior Terminator sequel that was?  The media made him out to be some kind of horrible jerkface that doesn't deserve to work in Hollywood.  I thought he was justified.  At the time I made the point that if he was a foreman on a construction site and a worker did something stupid, nobody would bat an eyelash when he cursed him out.  But because he was being filmed, the man was expected not to flip out when a guy who was being paid to work on a movie set walked into a shot while they were filming a scene?  Maybe it wasn't Bale's place to give the guy an earful, but he was understandably agitated and let it get the best of him.  It happens.  That doesn't make him a monster.  When somebody at the office would have the occasional only-human meltdown, he or she temporarily became the Christian Bale of the office.  The rest of the day would be filled with others whispering about that person, shooting them quick glances but making sure not to avoid eye contact, and awkward silences whenever the person was within earshot.  It was stupid and pointless, like my entire white collar "career".  I'm thankful that it's over.

By the way, my starting hourly rate at my new job is the same rate I was being paid when my office job was outsourced.  After five fucking years with the company I was only as valuable to them as a new employee with little experience is to my current employer.  Actually, less valuable, obviously, or the jobs of each and every person in my office wouldn't have been outsourced.

I know my line of work isn't for everybody.  But if you're like I was a few years ago, working in an office and absolutely hating it, then I urge you to give the blue collar life a try.  Yeah, you won't have the time or means to read awesome blogs while you're on the clock anymore, but you'll get stronger, sleep better, and won't be reprimanded for using the phrase "piece of shit" frequently.  If that sounds like a sweet deal to you, then by all means, ditch the white collar, you son of a bitch and a bastard!

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