There are certain traits associated with the paternal side of my DNA. Stubborn. Funny. Resourceful. Fond of the drink. Great dancers.
Unbeatable work ethic.
It’s that work ethic that is legend. We don’t call in. We show up every day we’re scheduled, we do our job (and sometimes other people’s jobs), we do them well, and you can always count on us. While that is admirable to an extent, it has gotten me into trouble on occasion and caused an internal conflict I’ve only recently come to resolve.
I have my family’s work ethic. I show up every day I’m scheduled. In the past, I’ve gone to work sick and hurt. My record of not calling lasted for years and was only recently broken because my upper back went out. I couldn’t even stand up and there was no way I could put on a bra, but I was still looking for a way to go to work.
You would think that this sort of work ethic would make working forty hours a week no problem.
I’ve worked full-time in multiple jobs and somehow in my younger years it was easier to bear. I guess because I was still riding high on the idea that it was what I was supposed to do. Make a living until I could find something better. And then make a living doing that. The goal, of course, was to be a responsible adult.
Which turns out to be something I’m not interested in.
I was unemployed when I began my third go-round at community college. I ended up going back to Walmart for the third time about a year later, but this time, I chose to work only part-time because of school. It was the first time I’d worked part-time since I was in high school and it turned out that I really liked it. I liked that I only worked four days a week and that I had fewer responsibilities than the full-timers. For the first time since I started working above the table, I wasn’t striving to get a promotion or be in charge or take on more responsibility. I went to work, did my job, and went home. And when I predictably dropped out of community college again, I kept my part-time schedule, this time because I had decided to get serious about my writing career and wanted that time to write.
The job I had after I got blackballed from Walmart was last full-time job I’ve had and I hated it. I hated the job and I hated being there 40 hours a week. I didn’t last a year.
At one point I held three part-time gigs at once and somehow I like it better than working 40 hours a week at one gig.
I’ve had the part-time library gig for over three years now. It’s hard to reconcile my famous family work ethic with my unwillingness to work full-time. Yes, I’m still serious about my writing career and have branched out to podcasting, and yes, I bust my ass at my library gig, showing up every day and putting in the effort, but my “real” job is still considered less real because it’s only part-time.
Can I still say I have my family’s work ethic?
Well, yeah. Because I realized that my work ethic happens to take after my Great-Uncle Junior’s.
Uncle Junior, like his brothers, was a working fool when he worked. He busted his ass when he worked. It’s just that he felt he should only work as much as he had to. “They can’t eat ya” is a family motto where bills are concerned and so long as his were paid, he was good. Sure, he lived in a bus by the river at one time, but that was because he wanted to, not necessarily because he had to.
As it turns out, I’m the same way. I only want to work as much as I have to and I have shaped my life to allow for that. Yeah, it’s not ideal and there are ways in which I’m hoping to improve it. I consider it my version of living in a bus down by the river. But until I can only work as much as I have to by writing alone, this is how I’m rolling.
Family work ethic intact.