Wage Slave

I’ve been feeling very quiet these last couple of days; maybe it’s because the weather abruptly shifted from unbearable to almost cool. I’ve been cooking good things—saag paneer (but without the paneer, because I don’t like it) and chana masala and white chili and maple cornbread—and I’ve been feeling tired all the time. Any outing, however small or pleasant, is exhausting. So I’m upping my iron intake just in case it’s anemia and not the weather (unlikely, as I get plenty of iron in a vitamin, but my best idea aside from “nap more”).

I’ve been making more of an effort to really cook because my husband is having a hard time; he hates his job, which is reasonable, but it haunts him even in off hours and days away, and I don’t know how to really help with that. We talk, and I both listen and give useless advice; I’ve started buying beer because he likes to have one in the evening after work, and it’s a small thing, but I want to heap small good things up all around him. “I never thought I would be one of those guys, you know—” he said to me.

“The kind who like beer? I think that’s most of them, cookie pants.” I like watching him enjoy himself, and I am also privately amused by the picture of myself, visibly pregnant, lugging a box of beer from the bus stop home.

If there is a way to make Mr. Book feel better about life, I’ve got to find it. He has a terrible job, and while we have two possible exit strategies, they seem awfully distant and unreal to him right now. I had a job for awhile in college that was pretty bad for me—it finally got to the point where I had panic attacks walking to it every day, and I still wouldn’t quit, and finally being fired was almost a relief. I know what it’s like to have the kind of job that actually makes you want to kill yourself, and that you’d feel like an idiot for actually killing yourself over. But I was mostly able to leave it at work, and my husband can’t. I don’t know whether I can teach him to draw a line around work and step away from it, but it’s my best idea so far and it isn’t working right now. I should say that this isn’t a sudden change; he has been sad and hurt about his work for a long time. But right now I’m thinking about it more.

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10 thoughts on “Wage Slave

  1. Brett has never had a job he likes except for the two years he worked for me and we steadfastly destroyed our financial security. Oops! That’s why I have to get through school so I can hire him to manage the businesses and then he can be happy again. But boy that seems like it’s a long long way off.

  2. My boyfriend is currently in a very similar position. Every day he calls me when he gets home from work (I’m moving back in with him in a few weeks,but for now we are on a 6 hour time difference) so I know that about everyday at around noon New York time I can expect a sad and angry phone call from Antonio.
    I haven’t found any solutions either. Last time we lived together, he was happy as a clam and I was miserable, and so I’m curious to see how the dynamics will change when this time I have the job of my dreams, and hes slaving away and paying his dues in a profession he only chose because his father made him. I like the beer idea!! I’ll have to get on that.

    Also, I’m happy to hear about your mothers sudden change of heart. Here’s to hoping its permanent! I know you are a strong woman and you have your shit together, but its always nice to have support and validation from our parents, no matter how “old” we get. I’m glad she’s finally come around 🙂

  3. Wait, you don’t like paneer? I’m out of here! (Or should I take my dad’s attitude and just say, “Good, more for me!” perhaps?)

    Other than that, I sympathize. My partner went through a big job-hating phase, which is currently not applicable because she loves the part of her job that leaves her doing nothing all summer. But for a while this spring when we were both unhappy at work, it made things so much fun at home. It’s hard to live with someone who’s going through that. Do you have any sense of how having a baby around will help give him a reason to leave work’s stresses at work?

    • When my sister Kate is around, she gets to eat my paneer. It’s a bit weird, I guess, considering that I like tofu, which is just like less fatty paneer. We’ve talked a bit about what this will be like when the baby is here, although part of that was me saying “You can’t be sad all the time for Pete,” which is not the most supportive thing ever. =/

  4. I’m sorry to hear about the job. My husband just changed jobs but spent at least 18 months being really miserable at work. It was so sad to see, particularly because we rely on his income so it wasn’t like he could just quit. On the plus side it meant he was happy to be at home and spend time with us, which was nice for me and DS! Hopefully the job market will pick up soon and he’ll have other opportunities.

  5. My husband HATES his job (and with good reason). We commute together so on our way home he is allowed to vent and I will gladly listen under these 2 conditions – 1) he provide me with a cookie from the bakery next to his office and 2) he stops talking about it by the time we get to our son’s daycare. If it’s a particularly bad day we have a cocktail when we get home and talk about the good things we’ve got going right now and our fantasies for the future. He is in a field where there is really a glut in our city (ie most job postings receive thousands of resumes from equally qualified applicants) so his prospects of getting out are slim. It can really suck the life out of him, and me because I get so sick of hearing the same complaints week after week.

    We try to focus on the good things that come out of his job – we have made some really good friends among his coworkers and his paycheck, while certainly not very large, does allow us to pay the rent and buy the good beer.

    I have a feeling that after the baby arrives Mr. Book will be thinking about work a lot less. That’s what happened with us.

    • That’s our hope, certainly; in the meantime, I scraped together my pin money and got him a couple of cheap magazine subscriptions. I know that might sound like a non sequitur, but one of the things that makes him sad about his job is that it doesn’t feed his brain in any way. Hopefully Mother Jones can help.

  6. I can relate… PB has never really had a job he liked, and has had more than one he hated. He’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him now as a very part time worker and full time SAHD. We have the luxury of being able to squeak… and just barely squeak… by on my income, which is great.

    I wish I had a solution for you. Being unhappy at work is terrible and it’s been my experience that while everyone wants to keep work and home separate it is often very hard to do.

  7. I hope that you are getting good rest this week. The dishes you mentioned sound delicious. Cooking is a great way of supporting Mr. Book. I can imagine how hard it is for you guys with him in an unbearable job. It’s good that there are two remote possibilities for getting him out of there. Thinking of you guys this weekend!

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