Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Definition of Work

A few definitions of the word “work” according the Merriam Webster Dictionary:
1: activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something: a: sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result b: the labor, task, or duty that is one's accustomed means of livelihood c: a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity.

7 a: something produced or accomplished by effort, exertion, or exercise of skill <this book is the work of many hands> b: something produced by the exercise of creative talent or expenditure of creative effort : artistic production

For a moment try to imagine that you performed one of the following jobs: Home HealthCare Worker; Landscaper; Personal Finance Manager; Life Coach; Personal Chef ; Housekeeper; Handyperson; Freelance Writer; IT Tech for a Small Business, Tax Preparer and Advocate for the Elderly.

Imagine that you left a position performing one job function to perform not one, but all of the tasks listed above.

Now imagine that you are not paid for any of these services and that you fund the associated costs for these services solely from your own savings, the intermittent freelance assignment, fixing someone’s computer problem or, the occasional gift.

Finally, try to imagine that according to society’s standards the fact that you are not financially compensated for providing the aforementioned services means that you, my friend, “Do Not Work” or at least you do not have a “real job”.

You have just imagined the day to day reality for thousands of today’s family caregivers.

A mysterious thing happens when you no longer receive a biweekly paycheck. People look at you askance. Many equate your new “jobless” status with a 20-30 point drop in IQ , the loss of years of formal education and the invalidation of any professional credentials. Some think that since your budget no longer includes regular visits to the salon that you no longer care about your appearance…or something worse.

Forget the fact that your new duties include negotiating and often fighting with insurance companies, understanding medicine management and, understanding mortgages and real estate values. You are no longer considered a “professional”.

If you listen to C-SPAN long enough you will realize that quite a few politicians think that if you did not make enough to file a tax return last year that you didn’t contribute to the economy. However, if your “friends” learn that you spend too much time watching C-SPAN they’ll tell you that you’re spending too much idle time watching TV. And heaven forbid that you goof off one Sunday afternoon and watch a few movies in between preparing meals and doing laundry, you may just have someone remind you that they ( and not you ) spent the day “working.”

The mainstream media doubts that you could possibly pose an intelligent question for the President. Even members of the established blogosphere often doubt that you have anything meaningful to say. After all, it’s not like you get out to many conventions and conferences these days.

For generations women who chose to be housewives were considered as “not working” but at least they were given some credit for bearing and caring for children. However, if you’ve never had children or your children have flown the nest then not having a “paying” gig means that you’re just not contributing to society. At least that’s how some people see it and I’m sure that this post won’t change their views.

When I learned about the Fem2pt0 blog carnival on this topic I was excited to hear that they were addressing this issue. However, after spending the past few days performing landscaping tasks and home heath worker duties, I almost didn’t get this post written in time.

I am awfully achey from “not working”.

Technorati Tags: jobs,women,women's issues,politics,family caregiving, satire

1 comment:

  1. AMEN PAM!! I am SO glad you wrote about your WORK. And I'm with you. In fact, if I were you, I'd proudly announce the aforementioned jobs that you do every day, 7 days a week when asked, "So, Pam, "what do YOU do?"
    List 'em out girl! LIST EACH AND EVERY ONE!
    I am SO proud of you!


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