A few – actually probably quite a lot of – years ago my friends and I became big fans of Avenue Q. We went more than once to see the fabulous original London cast do their thing. We loved how funny puppet sex is and related to many of the issues. The last song (sorry if this is an unintentional plot spoiler) is ‘For Now’ and starts with the following lines:
Why does everything have to be so hard?
Maybe you’ll never find your purpose.
Lots of people don’t.
The song goes on to celebrate the fact that nothing really lasts in life and that we have to become reconciled to this fact and learn to appreciate what we do have. It’s wonderful and bittersweet and I totally recommend that anyone checks it out (if nothing else because the fact that the original Broadway cast reassures itself that George Bush will only be the President ‘for now’ is a nice reminder that Trump will only be in office for a limited window of time).
The reason that I bring this up is that the opening line seems to be echoing around a lot of conversations with my loved ones at the moment. I am lucky enough to have lots of decent people in my life who are all trying their best to work hard, do the right thing and create a good life for themselves and their families. They are not asking for, or expecting, mansions, fast cars and super-yachts. They want to have a roof over their head , food to eat and a little bit of time to spend doing the things that they enjoy. They consistently turn up on time and work hard for their employers yet they are paid less and expected to do more. They are constantly berated, often by people half their ages who seem to do little other than kiss the butts of the senior managers, for not giving even more hours of their life to their work. They are expected to achieve impossible results. They are paid less and their jobs are often at risk yet they are told to just be grateful to have employment. They are frustrated and burned out and cannot see any future positive changes in this situation. They have to stay in these thankless jobs to just be able to pay for the roof over their head and other essentials.
I know that that, by having homes and food and jobs, my friends and family are luckier than many people. But I hate how broken and close to bitter these wonderful people are becoming. They are trying their hardest but it feels like a game that is against them and just surviving is now the best outcome that they can hope for in this increasingly bloody battle. These are people in the public and private sectors.
Being a lower level employee has never been fun but in the recent past there were some rewards and prospects; there was an element of job security, of work-life balance, of opportunity for personal development, of someone every now and then complimenting you for doing a good job. People that worked hard were recognised instead of the ones that ‘play the game’ and speak business mumbo jumbo. Is it true that your only option to progress now is to become a bull-sh*tting sell-out? I hope not but the experiences of the people I care about seem to suggest that this is the case. Maybe this is all part of our ‘post-truth’ world – the only way to get on in the world is to be post-hard work or post-decent. I really hope not. I’m just hoping that this is only For Now…