My boss is a kind, young man. I say young, despite the smoking, neglected diet, and developing belly bump. My coworkers and I all take turns to guess his age but he remains tight lipped. He says he feels like a grandfather already, but I see the youth inside him, every time he laughs without restraint.
He’s had a hard few months as leader, a position he’d happily step down from if he were not threatened with financial insecurity. Nothing new here. The job is shit, and everyone can attest to it. No one listens, and expectations rise without any allowances. Not a slave shift but degrading nonetheless. This is my first job, and so I don’t know what I should be expecting. But what rings alarm bells is that he seems to be under the impression that this is the norm. That work is torturous, money is the struggle of life, and there is no room for anything else.
There is no blame or judgement here. His life is unique, but the circumstances are similar to a great number of people in the world. His plight is not unheard, his fight not a solitary one. And no, it is not fair that some people have more than others. Some have more resources, favourable circumstances, or resilience to withstand the bullshit. Born with it, given it by others, or stolen from another. These are things that can never be shared by everyone.
But since I began working I have had the great opportunity to widen my horizons. It is easy to live in a bubble; to breathe, and eat, and think it for a lifetime. Again, no judgement. I’m learning that judgement has little room in a fruitful life. Some people can avoid change altogether.
I’ve had abuse thrown at me from the person on the other side of the display counter, but I don’t mind. Drunk off their heads probably, but another lesson in life for me.
My coworkers and I discovered that his birthday was coming up, and got together to plan a house party, with a hefty silver watch to end the night. I’d say the surprise went well. I’d say that I saw him feel something different, if only for a minute. He was silent with gratitude.
The next day we heard that the moment he got home he was notified of a family tragedy. Yes, life is unfair. But we will continue to try and care for those who mean something to us. I would choose nothing else.