How to Work for “The Man” and Pick His Pockets
“Fight the man!” I yell.
“But don’t we work for The Man?” my coworker asks.
“Yes, yes we do,” I reply, my fist still in the air.
“So basically, we’re fighting against ourselves?” he continues to test my reasoning.
“That’s right,” I concede and punch him in the arm.
I’m not advocating violence, though if you knew that guy I punched, you would also know he totally deserved it. But there were little ways that I fought “The Man”… all the way to retirement.
I retired after 20 years of working for The Man (23 years in the field, total). Overall The Man was good to me, but at times he kept me in my little ‘expectation box,’ making sure I worked within policy and parameter for my predetermined—and set in stone—wage.
There were times when I deviated from the widget-making robot The Man required, and I paid the price for deviating, but I survived.
For those familiar with “1984” by Orson Welles; I survived and still realize that 2+2=4.
Picking the Man’s Pockets
I fought The Man by:
- Questioning overspending on unneeded items for the office.
- Training outside my hired area of expertise to provide more value in-office solutions to problems.
- Looking for solutions to issues, instead of just pointing out problems.
- Questioning policies that existed for the sake of policy.
- Retiring the first day I was eligible.
These were just a few things I did along the way to retirement. And guess what, I made The Man pay me every two weeks while I was under his thumb. And even better, now out of his daily grasp, The Man has to send me a check every month until I stop paying taxes (ie. die).
Not a bad tradeoff.
Unleashing Your Possibilities
For my kids, I’ve encouraged them to latch onto my vision of the American Dream; hoping they will envision the same thing. The dream is working in the private sector. Buying a home. Raising a family. Retiring on your own terms.
I took the safe way out in the government sector. I was guaranteed a paycheck every two weeks. But I was also guaranteed to never reach the levels of success existing in the entrepreneurial world. Taking those chances have both their possible setbacks and enticing rewards.
Seeing my kids engaging in areas that rely on their own hard work and continued learning to achieve success makes a Papa proud. And don’t tell them this, but if they stumble, I will be there to help where I can. Shoot, they can even move back in for a short time; if they do their own dishes and stay out of my seat on the sofa in front of the television (I’m a little set in my ways).
So to you brave souls out there carving your own path in life: Kudos!
Fight the good fight and chase the dream!
Also published on Medium.