March 8, 2008

Over the last three months I’ve been working for a friend of mine at his hardware store in Raglan. The store is a lot smaller than the big boxes found in larger towns and cities so there’s plenty of variety in the work but all the same I’m amazed at how much I’m enjoying it.

I guessed in advance that I would enjoy parts of it because a large part of the job involves chatting to people but I’ve also discovered a few other things that make this type of work far superior to working in an office.

As I said, chatting to customers is part of the job, but (and this seems really obvious in hindsight) if you’re doing physical work you can actually have a conversation while you do the work – who knew?

The work I used to do in an office used the same part of the brain that you need for holding a conversation which meant that any chatting was done on stolen time. That this has been a revelatory experience for me is a sign of how effective the propaganda pointing me to ‘professional work’ was.

Something I was sure would happen (and it has) is that I’d sleep better. When you do physical work, you get tired and rest but when you do mental work you get tired and lie awake all night trying to make your brain slow down. Also when you do physical work, you get fit whereas when you do mental work you just get tired and lie awake all night trying to…

So I’m sleeping better, I’m having more fun, I’m interacting with people which I enjoy, I’m out in the fresh air and I’m getting fit. These are all things the professional classes pay to do outside of work – usually at gyms, nightclubs and shopping centres – hell I can even go shopping at this job too!

This last week I’ve had a cold but I thought I’d go to work and see how I coped – again I was amazed. If I’d gone to work in an office I would have begun to feel worse and worse until my head was ready to implode but in a job where you get plenty of fresh air and your body is moving you hardly notice a mild illness. All I did was have some benign tablets to help keep my nose clear (which never used to make any difference when I was sitting at a desk) and avoided really tiring physical work. I’d always met a lot of builders who kept working when they had colds and I thought they were real hard-men but now I know their secret – it’s easy when you’re on the move and getting fresh air.

To be fair the pay is crap and this creates other pressures that we’re really struggling with, plus the kids don’t like me being out of the house for so long during the day and it takes a lot of work to collect them again when I get home but for the moment it’s nice to have a job that I actually enjoy. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

And I know some of you are thinking ‘well duh! That’s obvious’ but just remember I was subjected to some pretty powerful propaganda for most of my childhood. Mind you even I’m amazed at just how ignorant I was of these simple facts of life.





  1. Good stuff, Aaron. It is a no duh, but people get caught up in things and forget it, The urge to have everything perfect; get figuratively bigger, better, and stronger masks the simple pleasures. I’m in an office job and am specifically trying to de-motivate myself from pursuing excellence. It’s good to be happy and relaxed again. I’m glad you are, too.

  2. There are so many influences encouraging us to see the world as a giant game of Snakes & Ladders, where all worth and satisfaction comes from getting as high up the board as you can.

    I remember walking away from a job as a radio journalist and finding myself working in a warehouse. It was great to have my brain back! I found myself reading more than I had in years. It was the beginning of the time in my life in which I first started to get a handle on who I was and what I wanted to do with myself.

    I look forward to a time when I’ll spend more of my day doing physical work again. Thanks for reminding me of that!

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