My pal who works for a logistics company was complaining at how his company undervalued him. He went on at length about the pressure of his job, scheduling, planning, etc. He had portions of the year when he worked more than 40 hours. He had a BA from a good school, some managerial experience in the past, and he was disconsolate about his $85,000 salary with benefits, 4 weeks vacation.
I'm an anomaly among my friends, the one who stayed in school forever. I've published two books. I've bounced around in academia because I'm one of the countless glut PhDs in the humanities. I came to age at the same time the peak of the glut.
"I make $30,000 with no benefits," I said at halftime during a lull. "No benefits. I have a week off in Spring, and take about 2 weeks around summer school off. I work about 50 hours on a normal week, teaching 5 sections of freshman writing. I work 60+ hours 5 weeks each semester around essays and final exam grading."
Everyone looked at me stunned.
"I figured you had it made," one of them said. "Don't you have a doctorate?"
"That school," another said. "That place looks like a palace. It costs $35,000 for my kid to go there. Why aren't you getting some of that?"
And it had been so long since I considered it that I just sat there mutely pounding guacamole and hoping the second half would start soon.
I am so used to my particular conditions of employment that I just don't even think about it.
"What about my apartment," I said. "You've been there. It's a shithole. Do you think I'd live there if I made any money."
"I figured you were quirky," one friend said, and that eased the tension.
I talked through it a bit, what I new from this site and InsideHigherEd. I told them that I felt undervalued, disrespected. I was asked to teach more than all of my discipline's organizing committees recommend. I was given the worst classes, the worst times, and asked to do what amount to the job of 2 full time professors for less than half the money.
"Quit," my best friend said. "You're smart. You can do something else. I'd put a pistol in my mouth if I thought I was being taken advantage of that."
"You wouldn't," I said. "Because it doesn't happen all at once."
I couldn't tell them the joy I felt GETTING this job, with some security, some guaranteed classes. I'm better off than half of the people I work with.
It's fucked, is what it is.