Eight. That’s how many years of post-secondary education Michelle had. For 8 years she had studied, working towards a career. She looked toward a bright future with many years of satisfying field work and a handsome income. When her studies were over, she started looking at the world around her, and especially the women. They were busy, overworked, tired, frustrated, but oddly content. Not one of them regretted their career path. Quite the opposite – they claimed to be happy! After carefully studying their lives, interviewing them, questioning their decisions, Michelle opted to follow their lead and changed her plans for the future.
With this new goal in her crosshairs, she studied, planned, and diligently worked toward it. She took classes, failed test after test, and tried harder. She read all she could, jumped through many hoops, applied dozens of times, and faced repeated rejections with renewed resolve and determination. At last, Michelle had achieved what she had set out to do, and was prepared for a long, satisfying career.
She was shocked when she found out the truth! Little did she know that she would:
-Be working 7 days per week
-Have no medical or dental benefits
-Get no coffee or lunch breaks
-Have no sick days or vacation days
-Not have a pension plan
-Not get paid regularly
-Remain at work with no opportunities to leave unescorted
These were not the worst of it. She complained to friends about:
-Having feces thrown at her
-Being screamed at
-Having her work criticized
-Being physically beaten
-Often working through the night
-Being monitored in the washroom
-Losing touch with the world
-Little job satisfaction
-Feeling unappreciated and unfulfilled
-Being unable to finish a task without interruption
Unable to quit despite these conditions and no compensation other than room and board, Michelle tried to make the best of it for 9 years. When she told others in the same position, they tilted their heads, nodded, and felt sorry for her. They did the same job for the same pay, but they got breaks. If they were sick or took a vacation day, they were able to call in a replacement worker who would cover for them. Or their own family would step up and help – parents, siblings, etc.
Michelle could not imagine this luxury – she couldn’t imagine being allowed to leave work for a few hours at a time. No, there was no point in even wishing for such things. While these things beat her down, what stung the most was the judgement from others who were NOT in the same position. If she dared mention the hardship, she was greeted with a shrug and a “you chose it, deal with it.”
At last, after 9 years, Michelle finally has some relief. She is no longer dealing with feces or working through the night. While the meagre compensation hasn’t changed, her hours have decreased. She has gone down to part-time, and now enjoys doing things outside of work. She has rekindled old friendships, started new hobbies, and is contemplating a change in careers. Perhaps one with a paycheck is a good place to start.
Who goes from a full-time job to a part-time job without a change in pay rate?
Unpaid stay-at-home parents who finally have all their kids in school.
GUEST BLOGGER: Anne Bruin
Anne Bruin is a 49 year old mother of a 9 year old daughter and a 5 year old transgendered son. She lives in Vancouver, with her husband who owns his own business. They are on the poor side of life but always looking on the bright side!
Featured image via.