December 22, 2010

Daddy, I got a job!

(The previous generation believes we are lazy. That’s not true, I think. Here is why.)
As a kid, I used to hear my parents wishing me a happy life. They hoped to see me grown up, educated, living a decent life, and employed. To them, a good job would be an indispensable part of the bright future one might desire to achieve. They were right, indeed.

I managed to grow up, get higher education in prestigious universities, live a life conforming to principles I find reasonable, and find a job. I’m a freelance translator and media professional, doing business with many individuals, groups and companies. This is a lovely job with a good payment.

After a while of working, I’ve got a circle of friends whose occupations and preoccupations are somehow similar to those of mine. To keep ourselves up to minute and offer best services we can deliver, we practice many things, including surfing the web, reading news here and there, spending a good time on weblogs and social networks, attending conferences and meetings, etc. Even we have our hobbies related to the job we do. Watching movies, reading novels, participating in social events which have something to do with culture and media and taking photos are some of our leisure time activities. In sum, people who belong to this circle have a lot in common in terms of what they do.

My friends and I share a similar background, as well. We are from middle class, somehow traditional families. Our fathers, now retired, had been employed in state-run companies and organizations, working a certain number of hours a month to get a somehow fixed compensation. This latter issue plays a significant role in their definition of work and their perception of proper job.

Let’s recall their jobs. Their working hours were fixed, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the case of my father who worked for Iranian Telecommunication Company. They had to carry out some predefined tasks which were determined by the boss. In other words, they were paid for doing what they were ordered to do. They never had the chance to run a business, to get to know the dynamics and forces of the market, to take risks.

And they had a permanent and almost fixed source of income which was risk-free and payable in the end of each and every month. In fact, the state-run economy of Iran in last decades made many people swear by almost risk-free status of employment in public companies. To them, the sense of security brought about by this type of working was very desirable, very true.

And they used to separate work from hobbies, job from the life. To them, whatever tasks which could directly lead to an income would be considered job, and other things were nothing but hobbies and leisure time activities. In that model of public economy, when the employee needed to learn a new method or technology, he/she was paid by the boss to do so. Hence, “taking time and even paying some money to learn something new which might probably lead to an income” could be just a secondary occupation, not the primary one.

However, above characteristics may not apply to doing business in free market. And in the case of what my friends and I do, none of them actually applies to our career.

Such differences are not problematic per se. The problem arises when the past generation judges us upon his preferred standards. Our fathers never try to understand that to work doesn’t necessarily mean going to office every morning. (In fact, I can stay in my own room and work and make a nice income.) To our fathers, taking working time to surf the web or participating in social events is a waste of time, while to us, i.e. idea-sellers of the information age, this is an investment and real work. To them, watching movies is a leisure time work, while we consider it a work-related practice.

Given above differences, my father believes that I’m not doing my best, that I’m lazy, that I’ve not yet found a real job. Sometimes I wanna yell, “Daddy, I got a job, believe me!”