Monday, September 5, 2011

Going Into Labor Day...


Some see Labor Day as the end of summer and a reason to consume baked beans and countless Natural Light by the pool, while others sit glued to the TV watching U.S. Open coverage.  Many ladies simply view Labor Day as the last official day to fashionably wear white.  Do people still wear white?  Or follow this dumb rule?  Oh who cares, it is a holiday, so grab a warm Natty Lite and you won’t care if you spill your sister’s homemade baked beans all over your white linen slacks while watching Serena slam a tennis ball at some Czech Republic chick who will soon appear half-naked in Maxim.  Isn’t that what Labor Day is all about?

Not exactly. 

According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”  Wow, for a holiday that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers, it seems a bit ridiculous that I am spending the holiday alone in my crappy apartment eating a bag of stale Fritos since six out of my nine jobs don’t pay me!  And since I am writing this blog post, I am still working!  Happy Labor Day to me.

Nine jobs you say?  Yes.  Which means I don’t ever have a day off.  Or a life.  Or a reason to celebrate.  This American Dream is a bunch of BS.  I kid, I kid.  I just know this hard work without income is so going to pay off one day and I am going to be in a huge mansion living it up for a few months before I die from a broken hip at 90 thinking I have the flexibility of my 24 year-old boy toy that I probably paid for.  Now enough of “making it” (success, not whoopee you perverts - get your mind out of the gutter), and let’s focus on right now and how any of this has relevance to Labor Day.

Those six jobs that don’t pay me?  All consist of the work I am most proud of.  Because if I am doing it for free, I must really, really, and I mean REALLY enjoy it!  This blog for example.  Jeez, if nobody is reading it, they sure as heck aren’t paying me to do it (but you want to send money, I will take it.)  The book I have been writing for over a year, is another job that I do daily that doesn’t pay me either.  Do I like it any less?  Of course not (but I do hope a big publisher buys it, call me!)  The same goes with performing comedy in LA (although in NYC I usually got two free drinks but they were pretty watered down so I don’t think that counts.)  Anyway, the point is, these are all jobs that I treat with the same respect as any job that pays me a salary…which means at least once a week I quit and then come crawling back.  I do however draw the line at stealing my own office supplies – that is just dumb.

My volunteer work doesn’t pay me either.  I wrote a joke recently that one of the perks of being a volunteer is that it is finally a job that I can’t get fired from.  In volunteering for the West Hollywood Library Fund, the West Hollywood Public Library and now the West Hollywood Book Festival, I have learned that my enjoyment for jobs have little to do with the money and more to do with the environment I am in and the people that I work with.  Some of the nicest people I have met in the five years of living in Los Angeles have been in these volunteer jobs!  Plus, let’s be honest, as a volunteer, I can say no to certain things and not feel bad about it.  For example, “No, I will not tell that crazy-eyed homeless man that he cannot steal that little pencil.”  After all, there are situations that require people with more authority…and health insurance, should a person get stabbed with that pencil.

Labor is labor – whether you are being paid or not.  Celebrate it.  Life is about experiences and the people you meet through those experiences.  If you don’t put yourself out there, you will never get the return on the investment – which most of the time, isn’t about the money at all. I have found in trying to just do the activities that I love – writing, performing, sharing information - I am much happier and less concerned about when or where the money will come.  It just does.  Sure, I’m still very glad to have the three part-time jobs that I don’t always enjoy just so I can pay the bills, but I put my energy towards the other things that are actually applying for library jobs!  Yes, I spend countless hours doing that too.  I’m not sure if my “contributions” are adding to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country,” but I hope one day they will.  Now doesn’t that earn me some baked beans?