For twelve months now, I’ve taken special care over how I present my escape message. When all is said and done, “Take this job and shove it” isn’t a very useful phrase at the moment.
As much as anything, most office workers are working from home, which is at least 50% less horrific and depressing than toiling in an open-plan office. It’s even one of the halfway houses of liberty I explore in Escape Everything! and The Good Life for Wage Slaves.
I daresay it’s still fairly rotten to use Zoom or Skype so much and to worry about what your manager will make of your pajamas, but at least the commute is a thing of the past along with the noisy and tedious Hell of actual office life. I’m almost (but not quite) envious of people who get a healthy monthly salary on those terms. It might be worth holding in the words “I quit” for a little while longer, taking the money and pretending that your WiFi is on the blink.
There’s also a sense of public reckoning unfolding, concerning which jobs are the important ones. Anyone who was ever in denial over how food provision and care work are the valuable contributions while the white-collar professions are meaningless or actively malign must surely be coming to terms with reality now. We need those health workers and grocery store clerks and shelf stackers now more than ever. Encouraging them to utter the magic words, “I’m throwing in the towel!”, might still be in their interest but it’s not in that of the common good. I’ve even thought about applying for a job at my local Sainsbury’s, so profound is the feeling of wanting to help out. (Naturally, I haven’t done that. I’m better suited as a foot soldier in the war against Pina Coladas.)
There’s also an idea that to have a job is actually rather lucky when so many companies are going bust and financial assistance for the unemployed is still pretty crap. I wouldn’t see myself as lucky to have a stinking jay-oh-bee even in those circumstances, but I would not want to overstate the “all work sucks” message to people who want to work but currently cannot.
No. Better instead to weather the storm. Let’s use these lockdowns as an opportunity to regroup. With everything being shut, it’s never been easier to save money for an escape fund. We’ve never had more time to take stock and come to terms with what’s really important. Conduct the “life audit” I recommend in my books as the first preparatory step towards escape. Make plans. Collect the right tools. Minimise and downsize. Develop resilience. Spend time with your imagination, drawing up plans for how you want to live when this is all over.
Escape Everything! was recently republished under the title, I’m Out: How to Make an Exit. I don’t personally care for the title change, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the sudden availability (and unprecedented cheapness) of the book here. Get it NOW to help with your lockdown escape planning. It’s available at Blackwell’s and in all the usual bookish places.