Saturday, January 13, 2018

Paying The Price

Previously: The Slave Driver

Friday begins like any other day: He wakes up, checks his phone for Facebook messages from his partner, checks out Slack for messages from his "other" job, and if he still has the time, signs in on Gmail to check for corrections given by clients in his "official" job. Gmail browsing is just an option today as it is his official "rest day." While others are gearing up for the work-free weekend, life goes on for him. It's been years since he last had a real rest day that he has learned not to entertain thoughts of burn out. He doesn't even ask for Vacation Leaves anymore. 

Half a year ago, his department at the Snippet Writing job was dissolved. It was swift, with over 50 souls suddenly finding themselves looking for a new job a week after the retrenchment was announced. While the department's demise was expected, (blame it on automation) and that the General Manager graciously provided a lump sum to keep everyone afloat for a month, not everyone found work as easy as he had. Barely two weeks after he was axed, he found employment in another company that moderates human-generated product reviews. 

Lucky for him, isn't it?

And so, despite the toils of having to manage two full-time jobs, he has accepted his lot without any reservations. He needs money - more than anything - as he realizes that one job could never support the demands of home. Now, he has to bring his laptop all the time, rely on his phone's mobile network to connect to the Internet, and squeeze work anywhere he goes. He has to give up his social life, (as his remaining free time is divided between his family and his lover) leaving all catching up with friends, and all invitations for coffee meetups, indefinitely postponed. 

It is the same reason he has stopped going to the gym for over a year now, cease long-form writing, which he used to have time to do - religiously, tend to his herb garden, which is experiencing a slow death, refrain from getting lost in the simulated worlds of his PC Games, even though he could afford new DLCs or expansions on Steam anytime. 

But at times when he could afford to think and ruminate his situation, he still wonders if it's all worth it, to accumulate this wealth in exchange for giving up everything that he once was:

...But today was a not-so-ordinary day. In preparation for a very big wedding he will attend tomorrow, he spent the whole afternoon getting a haircut and pedicure at GC, tried new specs at Executive Optical, bought new leather shoes, a pair of slacks, a new long sleeves, a ready-to-wear necktie, and a pair of socks which he will wear at the event. He was able to pay his house's mortgage tax, eat lunch at Bonchon, and bring home a Shrimp sandwich from Wendy's for his mom, without ever feeling a pinch on his savings. (But of course, most of these were paid through Mastercard) 

But still...

It is the price he has to pay - and will continue to pay until he can keep his two jobs because times have changed, and much as he wishes for an easier life, the choice is between liberty (with empty pockets) or a little sense of security (while never really experiencing the joys of living). By now, the choice is clear: he has to endure this all. 

He has two more hours to toil for his other job before he can get some sleep. After which, he has to start another work day soon after the wedding reception is over.

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