A week ago, if you had told me that the drudgery of the modern workplace can never be rewarding, I might have agreed with you. But this week I was rewarded for five years of wage slavery with a company-branded thermos.
It’s true what they say about patience being a virtue. Just as I was beginning to forfeit the last tortured remnants of my soul, HR emailed me a link to the company swag store and invited me to choose anything I want valued at $35 or less. I was even awarded a certificate of achievement which, presumably, would not have been given to me had I achieved nothing.
Is it true that the nature of work today necessarily means I am paid less than the value of my labor? Yes. Is it true that working as an alienated wage slave brought me to the brink of neurosis and mental instability? Sure. But it’s also true that the double-walled vacuum-insulated build of this thermos can keep drinks hot or cold the entire day.
Plus it holds sixteen ounces of liquid. That means fewer trips to the office Keurig, which I think will prove to my boss that I am okay with being completely and totally dominated by my work. Sure, it won’t get me a raise or a promotion, but maybe an extra sick day?
After years of clicking and clacking under the deafening, doleful hum of fluorescent lights, I began to question my life choices: Am I happy? Is my work meaningful? If I died tomorrow, would the CEO come to my funeral and kiss my forehead, or would he slowly unhinge his jaw like a python and swallow me whole while my friends and family weep? Now I only have one question: If I did die, could I be buried with the thermos, or would I have to give it back?
To be Frank — that would be great. Frank had a mental breakdown and now qualifies for short-term disability while he undergoes rehabilitation. It’s tempting, but if I stick around another 15 years, the company will give me one piece of a nice luggage set, and I need to always be planning for the future.