What work do you do? Why?

by Neva Knott

First Day, New Job, January 2023

I awoke this morning thinking about work. I imagine that is often the first thought of each of us in our capitalism culture of getting and having. The pandemic put my work into a tailspin because, well, my whole teaching career had been budget cuts, budget cuts, budget cuts and COVID just upset that whole apple cart once again. So now I get up and go to work selling clothes.

I enjoy my job, well, at least this new one. The one I had (also selling clothes) for the past year and a half/since COVID tanked teaching, was hellish, and for many reasons, some of which will sound familiar: constantly understaffed with the expectation that we “get good at moving faster and doing more.” Constant lack of training. Constant revolving door of hiring and quitting. Gossip. Rumor mill. All kinds of crazy toxic stuff that was just swept under the rug.

My waking thought came into my head exactly as I stated it in this post title.

…possibly because I work too much. You work too much. Working Americans just plain work too much. In 1992, Juliet Schor published Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, a piece of investigative journalism with an answer to my Why? I offer that we’re in worse shape today. We’re still in the spiral of declining wages vs. cost of living that began in in 1973. We’re enough cycles of the workforce from that time that many people don’t remember a different work culture, a different work/life balance.

…I, for one, am exhausted. I have had adrenal fatigue for the past twenty years (and probably before that, just didn’t know what it was).

Also, the thought came to me recently that most of what I have spent in the 18 months I’ve been working this new gig has been for the gig—clothes, commuting, coffee, food, all the little bits of money that get spent on a whim while at work. I am in credit card debt for the first time in 15 years.

In my post-covid life, I am standing in the steady stream of capitalism.

I don’t like it much. I prefer to do meaningful work that puts good into the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Comments (



%d bloggers like this: