Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Goodbye Summer

Guest post by Ingrid.

Today is Labor Day, which, like most holidays, has been subverted to something very different from its roots: a day for celebrating unions and worker's rights has become a day for celebrating barbecues and weekend trips. To be honest, I am a great fan of all of those things. (here is some interesting theory behind Labor Day) I like having Labor Day right after the Sabbath because I love thinking about the connections between the idea of a Sabbath and worker's rights. The workweek we have-- specifically, the two-day weekend-- is thanks to labor unions. We all need a day or two of rest, particularly those who do the thankless, underpaid/overworked tasks that run society.

All of this has me thinking of my various jobs over the years. I am a much employed woman, but it's interesting to consider the differences between the jobs I've had. For example, the federal work study jobs I have at school, positions designed to be filled by privileged college students who are perhaps not accustomed to a certain kind of work. My jobs at Bryn Mawr have all been quite wonderful and cushy, relevant to my interests, and sometimes even intellectually stimulating. I've done food service work at Bryn Mawr, and even there I was treated better as an employee than I ever had previously. Whereas at other jobs with about the same wage/training level I've been paid out of an ATM, ignored by my coworkers, called in without notice, and fired for being sick, my entry-level employment as a college student is as Ivy Tower as everything else at Bryn Mawr. The whole point of this exercise, I guess, is to check my privilege even as a worker: I'm at a place in my life where I'm doing work I like, both in the classroom and as a student employee, and during the summer when I have part-time jobs that are perhaps not quite so cushy as the setup I have out at the Mawr, they are not jobs that I need in order to eat, access healthcare, or have a roof over my head.

Summer's over which means different kinds of work, different amounts of work, and a different kind of leisure. Instead of a summer schedule that was mostly leisure put partly a pretty uncomfortable/uninspiring (if amusing) job, I'll be doing work that I really love and am passionate about, but perhaps in a larger volume than is sustainable. I love writing papers and reading and going to class and am fulfilled by my various on-campus employments, but I don't get to spend my Sabbath day as restfully as I might like much of the time. I've moved from my sprawling home and shared queen bed to a a tiny room that I alone have a key to, and I'll be moving my primary space of work from a lawn chair by the river in the Wild West to a desk in a musty library. I'll still be doing honest work (today the professor for whom I'm a research assistant had me take out her trash and push her wheelchair from the on-campus faculty housing to the library because her electric wheelchair broke down, all the while explaining to me how she planned to lecture on a comparative study of Alexander McQueen and Baroque costuming) and lots of abstract, perhaps self-indulgent work in my art history classes. Summer is a time when I feel myself returning to a more simple, corporeal mindset, and as the weather grows colder I'll withdraw from a primal summertime state and into my pensive, library-bound navel-gazing student mode.

1 comment:

  1. ingrid, darling, your writing never fails to tickle and delight me very much. thank you so much for your summer monday posts! xxxooo