One of my favorite websites to visit on an almost-daily basis is Cracked.com. If you don’t know, they’re a comedy website who often publish list-type articles based on real life, but with plenty of humor sprinkled in to make it more interesting and fun. Often the writers over there talk about big issues in a humorous way, while still getting across important points that they think everyone should be aware of.
Recently, Cracked writer David Wong (who is also a New York Times bestselling author, by the way) wrote an article entitled: 6 Reasons the System is Rigged (A Guide for Grads), and because so much of what he said in the article reminded me of my own life (and the lives of my friends and family), I felt a great desire to write a response post to said article. So here we go. Prepare to have your most cynical views on “the system” confirmed.
#6. There’s a Good Chance Your Degree Is Useless
#5. Trying to Change Careers Later Is a Nightmare
#4. Your Success Depends on How Much Work You’ll Do for Free
#3. Someone Less Deserving WILL Get Hired/Promoted Ahead of You
#2. There’s a Good Chance You’ll Get Fired and Never Know Why
I’m interested to hear some stories about this one, so if you’ve got a good one please share in the comments.
Wong points out an unfortunate universal truth: the “at-will” employment termination. Long story short, for the most part employers can terminate you at any time, for any reason, and you might not ever even know what that reason was. There are exceptions, of course…unions will fight like hell for someone who they feel was wrongfully terminated, and there are loads of discrimination laws that protect people from being fired because of their religion/sexual preference/etc. Unfortunately, in a lot of those situations it comes down to your word against theirs. You may strongly suspect that you were fired for a discriminatory reason, but can you prove it? Your employer will probably just come up with an alternative reason that is perfectly legal, and all will go on as if you were never wrongfully expelled from your only means of income.
I’ve never been fired from a job myself, but my husband had a wonderful experience with a power-mad restaurant manager. He was a part-time employee working some of the crappiest hours (because, sure, okay, that’s how these things work), but he was returning to school in September. He explained this to his boss, noting that if she wanted to keep him on the staff she would have to work his hours around his school schedule. He wasn’t requesting particular hours or anything like that – he wasn’t high enough on the food chain for that. He was simply explaining that he was going to be in university during these particular hours of these particular days, so he wouldn’t be available for work at those times.
The boss pitched a fit, saying such thing as how he was “ungrateful” and that his “job should come before school”. Keep in mind that this was not a 9-5 career job…it was a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant where the shifts were made up weekly at the boss’s whim. She seriously – seriously – believed that he should ditch university classes in order to come in to his minimum wage job whenever she deemed that he should. And then she suggested that if he was going to choose school over this job, then she would just fire him.
He wound up quitting (because, seriously?), but in this case he could have just as easily been fired simply because he was trying to better himself, and no one would have given a damn because his boss could have just said that she fired him for being uncooperative and ditching shifts.
#1. At Some Point, You Will Find Yourself on the Dark Side
It’s a horrible system in a great number of ways, and unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a hell of a lot that we can do to change it. Degrees will keep being useless, and changing careers will keep being painfully difficult until we find a better system of choosing and training for our desired fields. Employers will keep exploiting our good nature and trying to get free work out of us as long as we allow it – which will be forever because that’s what happens when you have to compete with all your fellow employees for brownie points to avoid losing your income. People will always get hired or promoted ahead of us unfairly because there is simply no way to keep employers from hiring the people they like best. And employees will always get fired for completely unfair reasons because how are you going to prove it, hmm? Really all that we can do is settle in at #1 as soon as we get a chance. The “Dark Side” might not be an attractive way of putting it, but it’s really the best place we can hope to wind up, because at least then we’re working and (hopefully) a little happy about it.