Friday On Our Minds
My pledge to you, the good and decent Bad Faith Times subscriber, is to soon get back to writing about the never-ending loop of bad faith politics that makes our culture go around and around.
I'm in Arizona this week covering the Super Bowl, as you may or may not know. That hasn't left much time to get mad online and write about it. To clarify: I remain upset online, I just haven't had time this week to grind out 2,000 words on why I'm so upset. The folks need their Super Bowl content. It's a matter of our collective mental health.
Below is a blog post I wrote in 2016, shortly after publishing 96 Ways To Rise and Grind, one of the most important coffee table books ever published by humans. I found it to be at least somewhat relevant today, as American workers have some leverage over their bosses and the companies seeking new workers and being accustomed to bullying anyone who wants to trade their labor for a few bucks.
The whole concept of quiet quitting stemmed from employers' frustration with workers having options and refusing to toil away for menial pay, an American tradition like no other. The faith has been tremendously bad in the labor market discourse for the past year, with no end in sight.
There's a song that transports me back to when I hated my job – every minute of it, with every pulsing fiber of my being. "Friday On My Mind," a 1966 hit from the Easybeats, might do the same for you, oh miserable worker of the world.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: a guy drags himself to work and does what he's supposed to do, thinking of nothing but the weekend and his girlfriend and the booze he'll drink and the money he'll blow. The contrast is stark: workaday angst and anguish with a silver lining of giddy anticipation.
I'd suggest you listen to this poppy documentation of worker discontent (or the superior David Bowie version from 1973), but here's an over-analysis of the song that inspired at least a couple missives that made their way into 96 Ways To Rise And Grind.
It's the below stanza that hit home for this once discontented worker, who would rise and grind by scribbling what amounted to press releases for billion-dollar technology companies squirming their way into public education. These education-technology folks knew there was money to be made. They were so happy, they could hardly count.
Do the five day grind once more
I know of nothin' else that bugs me
More than workin' for the rich man
Hey! I'll change that scene one day
Today I might be mad, tomorrow I'll be glad
'Cause I'll have Friday on my mind
I'd toil away at this hateful full-time job, writing what powerful tech firms wanted me to write because my bosses had made deals with them: We'll give you positive press if you throw some advertising dollars our way. This was never on paper, never official, but everyone knew it to be true. I did that dreadful five-day grind, I screamed internally at the thought of my work benefitting people making ten or twenty or thirty times what I made, swindling school districts out of millions for their useless gadgets, and I swore I'd change that arrangement ... one day ... soon ... after next weekend.
I wrote revenge fiction in those days. It was bad and bloody stuff. It was borne of anger and resentment. Some of it was publishable. Most if it would doom me in a court of law. Writing it was cathartic. It was a natural reaction to bitterness that had built up one grinding day at a time, like bricks piling up on my hopes and aspirations.
But I had Friday on my mind. The weekend was always at the fore – a sweet reminder that there was a temporary reprieve from this inane and frustrating daily grind. A date with my wife, wine, a weekend softball game, nine holes at the local course, beer, sitting around a fire pit with friends, liquor, horror movies, more beer, more wine – it all danced around my head as I slogged through another workweek. The mere thought that something better was on its way kept me docile, a good worker bee. Having Friday on my mind kept me chained to that awful desk in that awful soulless office building for years and years.
The miraculous, blood-soaked labor victory that we call the five-day workweek has that terrible unintentional consequence. "Today I might be mad," we've all said, under our breath or in the furious cavern of our mind, "but tomorrow I'll be glad." Why? "'Cause I've got Friday on my mind."
I had a coworker back then, a middle-aged woman who had worked at the company for more than a decade, pushing papers and buying office equipment and sharing her vivid sexual fantasies about Prince at the office lunch table. This coworker – we'll call her Carol – was the biggest Friday fan in human history. Find someone who loves you the way Carol loved Fridays (and doing unspeakable things to the late, great Prince) and you'll be set. She was the epitome of misery on every day not called Friday. That all changed on the workweek's final day, when she'd burst into the office and shout about how goddamn glad she was that today was – you guessed it – Friday.
I was sad for Carol. To actively hate one's existence for four days out of every week, only wanting to crawl through the Shawshank Redemption shit-filled pipe of the workweek to reach the end, then start the horrid process again on Monday morning, seemed like a special kind of hell. It only took me five years to recognize that I lived in the same hell. And it was of my choosing.
I have a more fulfilling work life today. I'll never forget the mundanity of my former work life though, and I'd say anyone who can relate to the Easybeats' hit from half a century ago should know there's a way out. Probably it won't be an easy route, since it likely took a long time to bury yourself beneath a job you hate – one that makes you pine for the weekend. Not everyone can have their dream job – whatever that is – but if you have the means and determination, strive for a gig in which Friday isn't constantly on your mind. An infernal Monday being on your mind, at the right job, isn't such a bad deal.
Do I enjoy sounding like a motivational speaker at a banking conference in Ft. Lauderdale? I do not. But the point stands.
"Rise and sell little pieces of yourself for money, hoping you can buy them back every weekend, and grind," as I wrote in 96 Ways. This is a deplorable arrangement: Joyless, hopeless, with only sprinkles of relief for hard-working people. The trick to changing it, however, is to get Friday off your mind.
Follow Denny Carter on Twitter at @CDCarter13.