“You should be ashamed,” declared a friend over coffee the other day. “No one should have as much fun working. It’s un-American.”
Surveys say about 70 percent of American workers hate their jobs.
“At best, 30 percent honestly enjoyed their jobs and bosses,” report Gallup in its “State of the American Workplace” report for 2017.
The report says more than half of workers in America are actively looking for a new job.
I could easily discount being one of those because some folks believe that, at 69 and drawing Social Security, I am “retired.”
They would be wrong. I work, on average, 50-60 hours a week, covering courts and county government for a newspaper (which is considered a dying profession by many), photographing high school sports and other assignments, running a hyperlocal news website and a national political news operation and shoot video for various clients, including CNN.
Donald Trump, the controversial 45th President, calls media people the “enemy of the people.” He’s wrong. I’m his enemy, which means I’m doing my job.
Retirement, I often tell my wife, will come when they zip up the body bag.
Why do I keep working? One, I love it. Writing and photographing news is, in my opinion, the best “job” in the world. I don’t consider it a job. If anything, it is a calling.
Second, the escalating costs of taking care of my late mother in her final years wiped out our 401K retirement plan and I have to work to put food on the table and, hopefully, pay for the other costs of living. I do not, for one second, regret spending our retirement funds on my mother. She took care of me for the first 17 years of my life.
So working is necessity and love. I wanted to become a newspaperman by age 10 when I sold my first news photo to The Farmville Herald in 1958. I’ve been working in news for most of the last half-century with a short trip to the “dark side” as a political operative in the 1980s. I made a lot more money working in politics, but hated what I did and it is no coincidence that I returned to journalism the same year that I joined Alcoholics Anonymous and started a journey to sobriety.
I love what I do and I try hard to be good at it. As a human, I sometimes fail but when that happens I try to apologize and correct any mistakes that I have made. I am far from perfect.
As a reporter, I take no sides in political debates. I’ve never declared any allegiance to any political party, even though I worked for Republican members of Congress and candidates in the 80s. My motorcycle helmets have one sticker on each: “I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I’m an American. There is a difference.”
I do write about candidates and elected officials if they, in my opinion, forget that they are working for the people as public servants. In columns for newspapers and other media outlets, I have criticised Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, right-wingers and the left.
Legendary Chicago newspaperman Finley Peter Dunne, writing under one of his “pen names” said: “It is the role of a newspaperman to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
And I love it.