Can I get an Amen?


According to Wikipedia, rat race "is a term used for an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat in a maze expending a lot of effort running around, but ultimately achieving nothing meaningful". I always associated the rat race with the big city, the financial district, corporate headquarters, business suits, you know. But now we've been thinking about how rat races wear many disguises.

So Marc works at Waitrose,right? {It's a posh grocery store that's all about quality and customer service and organic stuff and basically catering to the upper crust who would rather die than be seen shopping in the same store as the rest of us low-lifes.} Marc's a fruit and veg man, which he really likes, especially when all the funny rich old ladies come in asking him if he has monkey nuts and stuff like that. It paid crappy at first but there was the potential for some significant raises and no other jobs around in this economy so he settled in.

But that right there was a problem. Because in order to get a raise, you have to buy in to the whole system, the whole Waitrose mantra, the whole political game. See, at Waitrose they want you to "care about the success of the store" and show it. Convince your boss that you are invested! Show how much you love Waitrose and want it to succeed! Go the extra mile simply because your heart and mind are invested in the noble endeavor of selling people food!

It's absolute bollocks of course. Cause honestly, WHO CARES about the annual corporate profits of a grocery store that pays you shite and makes you wear a tie to sell apples? Everyone who works there does it for money, period.

In order to do all the stuff we want, we need money. We've got budgets and whatnot. So we started thinking about how in time Marc can achieve this elusive raise. Of course we couldn't care less about Waitrose, but we do care about the money. And that's how they get you to buy in. Turns out, you can't fake being trapped in the company's mental straits. You have to step willingly into them. You want that raise, you behave how they tell you to, and sooner or later you're right inside that meaningless rat race, posturing and stressing and caring what your boss thinks.

You know Marc and what a great guy he is. He's a damn good employee, the best in the department {even better than the boss according to some}. And today at his "annual review" he got no raise. Nope, not even the laughable 18 pence per hour that he expected would be the minimum. Nothing, nothing but criticism. The reason he got no raise? Because he's enthusiastic and energetic in the morning but this wanes in the afternoons. Are. You. Kidding. Me. His "wane" level is still higher than everybody else in the whole store. What the hell is this?

But after thinking it out, we set the anger aside, and rejoiced in what is really a "get out of the rat race free" card.

His boss tried to lure him into "working harder on improving morale" by enticing him with the vague promise of that magical 18 pence somewhere down the road -- next year, maybe 6 months if he works really hard. Okay, let's do the math here. 18 pence = £30 per month. That's not a raise, it's a joke. And yet they can get so many people to buy into the system this way. And it wasn't until now that we even realized that we had, to some degree, bought into it.

Awakened to this fact, Marc responded in a way that made me very proud. His boss wanted him to fill out an annual company form with personal goals of "keeping enthusiasm up in the afternoons" as well as taking on more and more stressful extra responsibilities just to show that he "cares" about Waitrose in the distant hope of the company beneficently bestowing the gift of 18 pence upon him. He told his boss to bugger off.

Okay, not in those words exactly, but this is Marc we're talking about. He told his boss no.

He didn't quit. Although that would have been glorious it would have meant the end of our traveling days. So he took the via media, which is probably the wise route? He said he will not be showing more enthusiasm, because that would be a charade; he would be being untrue to himself. He's dumping all the pointless extra stresses they had already heaped on him, and has quit trying to climb that stupid ladder. No more emotional "investment" in the company, no more worrying about always impressing the bosses. He feels reborn. Just stress-free tending to the cauliflower and happily helping the senile old ladies find their monkey nuts.

We'll stick with the crap pay, and opt out of all the bullshit, thanks.

8 comments:

Chris said...

While this is terrible and unfortunate news, I can't help but feel a little comforted to know that it's the same all over the world. I've got stories all too similar to yours that I dare not post on the web, because you never know who's watching. Suffice it to say that I too have recently learned that I must keep myself emotionally detached. When I come out to visit, I will share.

Super L said...

What a great and inspiring move. And I'm fairly sure you will enjoy the happiness that you bought more than the 144 pence a day it cost you.

The Hodges Family said...

Love the story....jobs suck all across the world!! Mines right up there with ya Marc! Hope you guys find that this has happened for a reason and we love ya!

TheBenandKaties said...

BRAVO!! Nicely done Marc. Maybe on your last day you can covertly heave certain fruits and veg in the direction of your boss, over the aisles, because I cannot think of anything that would kill pretentiousness more than a bombardment of flying monkey nuts.

P.S. Katie, you might need to be careful. I think the Brits are getting to you- "bollocks, shite, and bugger off" all in one post! Next thing you know you'll be saying "because" with a particular lilt...

Beth Rhoades said...

Remember that time Sedexho wanted to charge me $200.00 for setting up a water stand? WHAT THE HELL!

Sorry the rat race is real. University politics come a close second.

Love yer guts-
Beth

KT and Lance said...

You go Marc!!!!! I love it!

And KT, I love all the Britishisms in this post! But, what are Monkey Nuts? Do I want to know?

cathedvalson said...

Go Marc! Stick it to the Man!

Marc and Katie said...

P.S. "monkey nuts", as marc discovered, are peanuts in the shell. now get your mind out of the gutter. ;)