Northeast and South Philadelphia have several 70’s style diners. Many of them are open 24 hours. At times, when I found myself writing or creating a piece into the wee hours of the night, and if I hadn’t cooked and didn’t have anything I could prepare quickly, I would grab my reader or my notebook, sometimes both, and head to the diner. There are at least five of them less than 10 minutes from my front door but I have my favorite: Tiffany’s on the Boulevard. I would sit in the same booth by the window, and have my order taken by the same waitress. If it was before midnight, I would order the dinner special. Most of the time it was after midnight, so I would place an order for breakfast; then I would take out my reader to read or my notebook to write.
I suppose from observing my ritual, on my third or fourth visit the waitress asked if I was a writer. Yes, I’m a writer. She wanted to know if I wrote novels or poetry. Neither, I replied, I write about jobs, job dissatisfaction and the American workplace. Before I could get another word out of my mouth, the waitress looked around, then back at me, leaned down closer and said in a lowered voice, “I hate this fucking job.” The other waitresses, vicious crabs in the barrel, she lamented, were difficult to get along with. Then there was the night manager who was always riding her ass about one thing or another. I watched as she hurriedly walked back into the kitchen to put in my order. Ten minutes later she emerged, balancing the tray holding my breakfast.
Placing the steaming plate in front of me, and moving the napkin wrapped utensils closer to my plate, she continued her story. She was trying to get back in school, but with a child and with working at night, she couldn’t imagine pulling it off. I asked her what it was that she enjoyed doing. She replied that it didn’t matter because she couldn’t imagine anyone paying her to do it. “I need a job that’s gonna pay bills.”
We had the same conversation, about diner work, the shitty pay, the conflict with co-workers and the night manager, for nearly 3 months; then one night, when she wasn’t there, another waitress assigned to the window booths told me that, “She’s no longer with us.” She didn’t say why, and I didn’t ask.
Invariably, when I read reports about disengagement, job dissatisfaction and workplace conflict, I recall my conversations with the waitress and wonder if she went back to school or just found another gig. I also remind myself that jobs and money, managers and co-workers, and the complaints leveled against them are often a mask for the problems that lie deep within us, problems that only a radical shift in consciousness can address and put to rest.
Here is another story.
It’s an early, bitter cold Friday morning, and I’m boarding Amtrak’s Northeast Regional to D.C. The train originates in New York, Penn Station. By the time it arrives at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, seats are scarce. Looking around for a seat as the train slowly departed the station, I finally find one and settle in next to a guy who is on his computer. We exchange “good mornings.” After several minutes, without looking up from his computer, he asks me if I’m headed home for the weekend or if Philadelphia is home. I tell him that I’m in D.C. for the weekend and Philadelphia is home. I ask him the same. He’s from New York City and he’s going to D.C. for work: lobbyist. Not the greatest job in the world, with the stress, the commute, the politics and the imbeciles in D.C., he comments raising his brows, but it pays the rent and the bills. And what about you, he asked, what do you do. I give him the usual story.
He asked me several questions that let me know that he was familiar with job misery and disengagement. I respond by describing how beliefs operate and their relationship to the workplace, how a transformation in consciousness will shift our ideas about working, commuting, debt, economic growth, the whole rap. He removes his hands from the computer keyboard, looks up and replies, “I can’t imagine that ever happening.” He seemed puzzled. He looked at me very suspiciously, and asked in a parental tone, as if I were his 9-year-old whom he’d just discovered in possession of a handgun, “Where’d you get this from?”
I told him that I had been a student of A Course in Miracles for some years, and that I found the basic tenets of the course holistic, unified, and sustainable, easily transferable and applicable to all aspects of our life on Earth. He said he’d heard a little about ACIM but he couldn’t imagine how that book could be used to critique an economic system.
He reasoned that certainly there were problems but that all systems have their problems. Life is all about problem solving anyway. If people didn’t have problems to solve, no progress could be made. That’s evolution. He then offered that the high rates of disengagement that I mentioned could be easily addressed by making jobs more fulfilling and interesting.
People, he added, need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. If not, they would do nothing because humans are essentially a bunch of lazy asses. He cited as evidence his brother-in-law who doesn’t carry his financial weight in the marriage with his sister, all because he’s hell-bent on living off his sculptures. “He’s ridiculous,” he said, returning his focus to the computer screen. “She should leave his sorry ass.”
As the train slowed down, nearing the last stop at Union Station, we gathered our belongings. The lobbyist turned to me and said, “You’re quite an interesting woman and you have some interesting ideas but I can’t imagine a world where people don’t have jobs. Enjoy your weekend.”
I have these types of conversations on a regular basis. The workplace and its culture––relationships with co-workers, bosses, conflicts, money, job descriptions, commuting––is a dominant experience in our lives because the majority of our lives are lived at work. Over the average lifespan, we pass more time at the job, engaged in earning, than we do with our families and in our communities. Rarely will I talk with someone who enjoys her job, her co-workers, and is satisfied with her salary and doesn’t skim on family time. But for most, like the waitress at Tiffany’s or the lobbyist, working and earning is a drudge, and they cannot imagine how life could be different; they often even resist the invitation to do so.
With 125 million of us holding full-time jobs and more than 75% miserable, disengaged, and emotionally addicted to complaining and projecting blame, U.S. businesses bear losses in productivity in the range of $450-$500B every year––due directly to workplace misery and disengagement. While the collapse of the American workplace is imminent, the disintegration would occur overnight if we became aware that working and earning are not facts of our existence but beliefs, unsustainable ones that serve greed, conflict and the destruction of the Earth.
Wallowing in the unawareness of how beliefs can manipulate consciousness, we’ve yet to discover that we are unwitting hosts, channels and practitioners for the belief in separation and all that it denotes––limitation, scarcity, shortage, debt, economic growth, isolation, alienation and lack; lack of money, resources, power, creativity and imagination.
But then again, it’s understandable. We’ve been living under the separation system for thousands or, as ACIM states, millions of years. Operating on the belief in aloneness and victimhood, we create political enemies as a veil and pretense to occupy and invade, to extrapolate and steal resources, to war and kill. Functioning on the belief in disconnection from the Earth, we have driven species into extinction, and with bodies composed of 60% water, we poison the water that we have to drink to survive. In our disconnectedness from the Universe and denial of our true place, as opposed to our present belief that we are the center of the Cosmic Order, we have constructed an alien, pre-pubescent story that justifies our conflict-ridden way of living on this planet: This is the way it is, and we can’t imagine otherwise.
Our collective consciousness is immersed in a system that strives to maintain a global state of fear, ignorance, and indifference, devising ever new justifications for keeping information hidden and the power of the imagination imprisoned. This system and its way of perceiving reality has constructed a disparaging environment around new ideas and visions, holding suspect and trivializing the people who share them.
The billions lost due to job misery and disengagement pale in significance to the suffering that we experience and that could be alleviated by the radical expression of talent and passion. All transformation is preceded by imagination, by a vision of what is possible.
There are very few of us who can imagine a global economy based on gifting and sharing. Co-creating in community and communion with people, plants, animals and the Earth as the new bottom line is unimaginable to a consciousness addicted to the belief in interest, profit, greed, and the GNP. Relinquishing the power to imagine a New Narrative, we wallow and waste away in the old one, projecting blame for the sorry state of our lives onto managers that ride our ass, minimum wage, difficult co-workers, the imbeciles in Washington, D.C. and of course, people––natural born, lazy asses.
That’s the Call, Rap and RealTalk about the belief in working hard, earning a living and the BIG-Ass footprint commute.
Remember you can find the Call, Rap and RealTalk on Twitter most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Take a look at the 30-Day Workplace Challenge to get started on creating a New Narrative. The Challenge is designed to assist you in using your imagination, a very powerful faculty, to begin shifting your perspective about your role in the global shift in consciousness and healing the separation between who you are and what you do.
In other news in the American workplace:
United Airlines has put a new spin on their motto, “Fly the Friendly Skies.” It will be quite some time before we forget the images of Dr. David Dao being beaten and dragged from his seat. Apparently United Airlines settled out of court. My sister recently commented that she had hoped that we would see Dao’s name on the fleet, instead of the name “United.” With a 2016 profit of $2.9B, United must have ensured that Dr. Dao can now purchase his very own private jet. Below are two interesting articles about the assault.
My Course in Miracles’ friend sent the article below that I am sharing. I think that the article glosses over the cause of job misery and disengagement. Furthermore, gifting should be a way of life, not something to get employees to work. But that’s my Rap; have a look for yourself
“The Surprising Things That Happens When You Inject “Love” Into the Workplace.” http://blog.mindvalleyacademy.com/mindvalley/culture/love-week-at-the-workplace?utm_source=cm-blog&utm_medium=email-share&utm_campaign=mvablog-share