Apr 20 2010
It’s unfortunate really, because I had been feeling so good about work. So lucky. So content. So, well, happy just to have a job. But it was more than that. I was feeling fulfilled. Part of that is I get to work with college students — as a student newspaper adviser and now also as a teacher thanks to my opinion writing class.
There are few things better than being able to help mold and meld partially-solidified minds. It’s rewarding. And it doesn’t hurt that you can occasionally call them names like “meatball” and “mullet head.” (When I’m really on my game I’ll string them together like: “You mullet-headed meatball!”
So I had been pretty happy on the work front. That is, until I read that Wall Street Journal article. Why am I always looking to newspapers for personal enrichment?
It was a front-page piece that — tragically — forced me to look at my job in a whole new light. Frankly, work will never be the same again. I thought I had it good, but turns out it was just a mirage. I’m being duped.
What was the story about, you ask? The headline read: “Drinking on the job comes to a head at Carlsberg.”
It told the tale of beer rights being dashed in the Danish workplace. Think “Hamlet” set in a brewery. Poor, underappreciated beer makers at Carlsberg are no longer entitled to all the free beer they can drink while on the job. (OK, maybe not Hamlet, but something kind of Shakespearean.) Instead, they’re now being limited to just — get this — “three pint-sized plastic cups from a dining hall during lunch hour.”
Three pint-sized cups?!? And only at lunch? What kind of world is this? Talk about unjust. How are you supposed to work up a proper buzz at the bottling line and get your fingers horribly mauled in the machinery? That, too, is a worker’s right!
But Carlsberg, which even allows its drivers three bottles a day, decided it had to cap the tap. Something about productivity and worker safety. Not to mention there probably wasn’t any beer to sell to the general public.
This, as I’m sure you can understand, has the beer makers hopping mad. Their union’s pretty ticked, too. (And people say unions aren’t good for anything. Don’t you wish YOU had a union right now?)
A direct quote from one of the angry beer swillers: “This is a right workers have had for 100 years. Carlsberg has taken it away without any negotiating at all.”
Dirty head office mongrels! How dare they not negotiate. I betcha’ they’re all sitting up in their plush offices drinking beer while laughing at those lowly slouches in the warehouse.
Three pint-sized cups of beer for lunch! How degrading. How is anyone supposed to slur their speech or see all googly-eyed after that? How is anyone supposed to wrap their arms around their boss and say things like, “You know, you might smell like dead fish, but I still love you.” How will they work themselves up into such an intoxicated lather that they’re ready to fight the nearest mop?
No wonder they’re angry. Work is no longer like one unending bachelor party. It’s probably like — gasp! — work. What’s the point of going? What’s the point of showing up everyday? Carlsberg sure seems to have its priorities backwards.
Some will no doubt read this and think workers should be more focused on being productive employees and not treating their job like a pub where they get paid to drink. But that would be far too cynical for my taste.
Shoot, here in America we worry about ridiculous things like retirement accounts, health insurance and whether we can wear casual clothes on Fridays. How petty! I think our priorities are the ones that are backwards.
The Danish beer brewers might be on to something. Besides, let them take away your beer on the job and what’s next? Could be they’ll start requiring actual work. And that would be way too much to show up for everyday.
Anyway, no matter how you look at it, my job — and all the free water I get to drink all day — won’t ever be the same again.