20. Don’t question sustainable job creation

Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. I scrolled through the job ads like a madman. Blindly I typed one job application after another. An anticipated phone-call interrupted my productive flow, I picked up in great anticipation. It sounded dead serious on the other side of the line. The tone was set. Kindly I tried to make the conversation more relaxed, yet it was of no use. A bombardment of accusations caught me by surprise. What was supposed to be a professional conversation completely derailed. Somewhat overwhelmed I heard it in dead silence, which was a golden move. The deafening silence totally killed the ‘conversation’. So I simply hung up. Well, I couldn’t get rid of them so easily. The phone rang again after five minutes. Although the number was different, the origin of the call was a no-brainer. This time I received a blood-boiling rant from the boss. Ah, now there’s the big fish. I put the call on speakerphone while making sandwiches. Most of the phone-call passed by since multitasking isn’t my cup of tea. The foremost thing I picked up was that ‘I didn’t know how the world works’. I hung up and laughed out loud. LOL! What a farce.

I had a second guess while jamming a sandwich into my hollow wisdom teeth. What surprised me was the intensity of that ‘conversation’. Apart from that, the (overly tensed) reaction didn’t come out of the blue. The bickering was about an earlier meeting. Back then I expressed myself bluntly due to incredible green-washing that I had to endure. Forcefully they addressed how much they care about sustainability. Targets, behavior, even whole business models were all very sustainable. Truly everything on which a sustainability sticker can be put was covered. A clearly rehearsed tune was played with a duty that lacked any conviction. The challenge of our time – the necessary transition towards a balanced system – was once again tackled way too simplistic. Negligible measurements that don’t make a real difference were named. The demand for energy and resources remains unchallenged. It all remains the same on a fundamental level, including the deep-rooted belief that technology will solve everything. This while the (technological) dependence on finite resources remains the final conclusion, even within most ‘new’ ways of thinking. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Einstein’s words are as relevant as ever.

I sighed deeply. Sure, we’ve got to start somewhere. I get that. But at least let’s do it properly. I shared my observations in an agitated fashion. All those wonderful targets were nicely met. All the plastic cups, large luxury cars, bulging bins, corporate hoarding, energy-guzzling devices and switched on lights (on a clear day) proved it. An uncomfortable silence fell upon us after I retracted my index finger. My act blew all decibels out of the meeting room. Being (too) critical doesn’t win the popularity contest, as it turned out once again. Not to mention when you expose hypocrisy or cognitive dissonance. I tried to fix the harm with a joke, but the damage was done. My unfiltered brutality made a fool out of them. They had faces like thunder, and I braced myself for a fierce storm of words. But the conversation went on as if nothing had happened. I played their game with hold-in amazement. In the end, we agreed that I would write an appealing introduction for their clients.

All is said and done. And since I knew which parties were involved, I also approached them directly. The consultation with this secondment agency was after all non-binding. Nothing as sustainable as being on or close to the source, I thought. That’s why I didn’t see any problem with my (non-compliant) course of action. That did it though. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Only after the phone-terror did I realize what the outrage was really all about. I indirectly mocked them by bypassing them. In fact, I questioned their right of existence, their added value to society. They lost their minds because of that. A (lack of) conviction triggered them, and the same applies to me. The fact that I happily worked for secondment or employment agencies doesn’t make me any less sceptical. There are plenty of situations in which they are practical, in which they have an added value for something or someone. These constructions are commonplace for a reason. I’ll be the last person to deny that as a substitute professional. At the same time, I have come across several cases – like this one – in which it’s just a useless layer. One that makes the labor market only more laborious. You’ll end up having more interests, longer lines, increased paperwork, greater money flows, more pressure to keep more people content. I didn’t see a positive outcome in the end. Jam a price label through someone’s ear and shove that cow over the monopoly board. Nah, never mind.

I carried on the job hunt with a sense of duty. You’ll have to do something as an unemployed bum. But whatever comes onto my path, please don’t let it be a bullshit job. Let it be something useful or meaningful, something that adds real progress to the world. Something that’s truly efficient and self-correcting, something that’s more consistent than the almighty invisible hand. It’s crafting the same showpiece wherever it goes. Job creation is its universal code word. Making or maintaining problems keeps the economy running. Everything is fair game to stay busy for the sake of staying busy. Even if it’s being physically present, even if it’s something that sounds decent to occupy the traditional working week with. Only then you’re doing great. After all, messing with traditions or economic religions is a no-go. Looking differently at what’s value, creation, contribution or (dis)honest work? Leave it. That’s something for rebellious, ungrateful, unworldly, greedy, idealistic and above all lazy dreamers. Back to work we go. And if you don’t have a job, then finding or creating one is your job. No job, no life.

I better find a ‘real’ job anytime soon since my right to exist expires without having a paid daycare.

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