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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: Do you "live to work" in US?
Thread: Do you "live to work" in US? This thread is 2 pages long: 1 2 · NEXT»
Doomforge
Doomforge


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posted March 01, 2018 10:48 AM

Do you "live to work" in US?

Hey,

I've come across an interesting opinion - that in general, in Europe, people "work to live" while in US, China and Japan people "live to work". What's your take on the situation?

Is it true that in America, people in general are more OK with overtime, that they don't take paid leaves (or are fired after taking one, lol), that they are basically screwed when their health sucks and they get ill often? The question is obviously aimed towards Americans.

To me, it would be absolutely unbearable to face accusations or threats of getting fired after getting a flu twice or thrice in several months. Honestly, what I'm reading about US work system is pretty scary in general. So I am expected to listen to some bullcrap "manager" "not taking it well" with me wanting to go on a 2-week trip to the mountains once a year? what the heck am I even reading.

Are you scared to take a couple days off because "there are others that may overtake you" or even worse "your boss doesn't like it" ? I'd honestly punch that boss right in his smug face for that, lol.

I'd welcome opinions on this.

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OhforfSake
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posted March 01, 2018 11:16 AM

I think treating your work life as an essential part of your life and not a prison or an unpleasant choir is quite normal in Europe too, hence overtime I'd think is normal as well.

Normally, unlike say public schooling, you choose your job to a certain extent, but I understand if it is unpleasant to imagine the idea of spending 1/3 of your life doing some kind of work if you haven't found something you'd like to do or are afraid of how it will be like. Sorry if this is too much of a hyperbole.

I imagine people who dislike their work will in average keep at that work life a shorter amount of time.

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Doomforge
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posted March 01, 2018 11:55 AM

I would risk saying that most people aren't fortunate to have hobbies you can make money off (including myself). I can hardly picture anyone truly enjoying occupations that are based on standing behind a counter or licking stamps, yet the majority of people works in simple, mind-numbing jobs. Hell, that's life, we can't all be adventurers with their own Discovery Channel program. Nothing to complain about here since there's no one to blame.

In Europe (Poorland at least), though, even in a crappy job, you can still keep a level of separation between the interesting and the mundane. What interests me mostly is whether in US the general sentiment is to dedicate your life to your work, no matter how boring it is. Poland is sort of 50/50 on this, but the system itself (26 days of paid overtime, paid sick leaves, very long maternal leave) is generally tailored to suit the needs of those who do not wish to dedicate themselves to their jobs.

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OhforfSake
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posted March 01, 2018 12:05 PM
Edited by OhforfSake at 12:08, 01 Mar 2018.

I wasn't speaking about hobbies though.

While I don't know, I am guessing that the social part is a huge factor as well. If you work in an environment you enjoy, it might not matter much what it exactly is you are doing.
After all, wouldn't we try to get into an environment we enjoy in our free time as well?
And sometimes I think having a steady schedule can even help avoiding pitfalls where people risk isolating themselves and waste time away, such as getting up in the middle of the day (while in e.g. public school one would get up early and look out the window in the class room and wish one could be outside in the nice weather, not sleep through the entire day) or staying up all night watching cat videos.

Also there is the sense of accomplishment knowing what you do is fulfilling a need someone require help for, and you are the one who delivers it.

Finally I think if one has a family another sense of accomplishment comes into knowing you are providing for someone else, not that not having a family would make you not work, only that it is something else people might have in mind.

Then again, I don't know, I am only speculating here.

Edit: PS. Sorry I just realized, and I don't wish to derail your thread, so I'll try not to go off more tangents.

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Elvin
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posted March 01, 2018 01:39 PM

I would pay to see you punch your boss.
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Doomforge
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posted March 01, 2018 03:05 PM

Haha, that would be a little extreme But honestly, I'd be royally pissed. That's what I always feared about relocation... you may encounter an ethic that comes to you as outrageous, but is actually assumed normal by locals.

The "horror stories" I read is that Americans (in majority) are afraid of:

1. losing respect of their boss
2. losing respect of their coworkers
3. losing the job (!) even

in the event of taking long paid leaves.

What blows my brain is that those things are granted in the contract itself. Why feel bad about simply taking what's been given to you? Even in Poorland, if someone fired me over this, I'd sue his butt and win with 99% probability.

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fred79
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posted March 01, 2018 03:18 PM

i've never worried over, or been afraid of losing a job. i was only ever fired from one job, and that was for not making money in telemarketing. know what i was "selling"? getting donations for the police fund. as if people's tax dollars weren't enough. come to think of it, it sounds now, like a criminal enterprise. i highly doubt any money would actually GO to the police, being that they're already paid by the city. lol, "raising money for city employees". what the snow was i thinking, that that would ever be a legitimate job.

but back to the subject: you are going to find people who worry about losing their jobs(aside from your typical worrywart) anywhere; normally the people who worry are parents with kids to feed, or a marriage to keep secure. people without social ties(as in, they're not as invested in societal structure) to the system, don't really give a snow. they may take their job seriously(as i do when it comes to customer satisfaction), but it's not something they worry over.

now, there are people who are more invested in their jobs in a ladder-climbing way who may worry, as well; but that's only because they think financial success is what should define a human life. basically, they took the whole capitalism(you're nobody until you have this, that, and the other) schlock hook, line, and sinker.

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markkur
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posted March 01, 2018 03:46 PM

Doomforge said:
...What interests me mostly is whether in US the general sentiment is to dedicate your life to your work, no matter how boring it is.


I think it depends on "the side" the definition of Dedication is given.

I was dedicated to every job I held. It didn't matter whether, I threw a paper, I dug mud out of a pit, washed dishes at a café, bussed tables at a ritzy hotspot, packed & moved people's household goods, ran a plastic injection machine and some others. The bottom-line, I wanted to do whatever work where I was paid the most moolah; i.e. defined as "working to get-ahead or working my way up the ladder."

Later, when I worked a couple of decades inside two Corporations, other "definitions" came into view.

1. Politics. Ever heard the phrase "brown-nose?" When "the bosses" are all say Golfers and that game is the sacred image of professional quality? There are yes-people that respond to that requirement to "get in good." A few may play well already and be "selected" while others will commit to play the game to rub-shoulders and hope to make headway.

2. The Grunts believe? A. They can blame all on their superiors. This can be a race issue but the fact is anyone can fail here. B. They can learn to forgo the gossip and rework their attitudes to center on providing for their families, their future or as I liked to put it; I best said after the reality I encountered = I worked for myself. As silly as it sounds, if you desire to be a person of solid virtue and character you have to decide what games you'll play and what games you will not.

3. Us versus Them. I chose the no-mans lands and in part because of my inner-goal and the output of my attitudes, did receive notice. I ended my career by working many years as a Supervisor of many people and departments. By the end, I had a respected voice in all matters regarding our manufacturing processes, our quality-certification by ISO-9000 standards and was the dude most likely chosen to take potential customers around our operations and sell them on what we did there.

To take that step, this Grunt had to take a promotion that gave a higher salary but no overtime. The fact was, that "a few" older men that were qualified would not take that...loss. We worked so much overtime in those days, that my promotion cost me over 10,000$.

So why did I do that? A few reasons.

a. I wanted that position...it was indeed a Gain.
b. I knew I could help, the men, the machine, the methods and in the end...the management.
c. I understood that we ALL were in survival-mode. All our lively-hoods were under intense competition at home and abroad. A fact made much worse by middle-management being ineffective in leadership.

How did this long-haired and bearded rebel, that refused to play golf make it there? Every function I had, I owned, it was mine and I was accountable to me and no other person. That meant I had to learn to be satisfied with my own goals and not look for a thing from the outside-world.

Can we be dedicated to our job? Of course and should be at all times no matter the current work. My God, if you cannot walk you will not run.

Was I "used?" Of course I was used, a lot. However, I made it impossible to not reach that conclusion. Make yourself high-value and unless They are totally inept, they will grimace but take you as you are.

The Plant did close-down but I learned a treasure trove of people-skills in various operations and about everything I needed to learn about myself. No University-education could have came close in any way. You see, in the end, those folks were the ones I had to navigate.

I did go in to work on weekends when it was seriously needed but that came with the task.

Today, I imagine people can still get-ahead but I think much as changed when it comes to the work and the workforce. Some young minds I've talked with orate as if they will be blessed with a CEO position, without lifting a finger. Good luck with that; it would be a nice dream and may come true, but I think most will have learn to work for themselves and always provide the evidence.

I will say consider this about where to work; you may consider avoiding, when possible, companies that call themselves a Name and then expect - to use "your ?" <imvho> If they would not invest in their own idea...neither should you.

   




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artu
artu


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posted March 01, 2018 04:32 PM
Edited by artu at 16:32, 01 Mar 2018.

I think, you are shifting between two things here, Markkur. To respect what you do is one thing (my father used to say, "you can choose to be a garbage man, fine by me, but if you do, try to be the best garbage man there is and make sure the streets are really clean), to define your career as the central purpose of your life is another thing.

The second one may be quite meaningless, if we take into account the concept of alienation (in the Marxist sense, which is, relating to your labor). Now, what is that exactly, imagine you are a shoemaker in the traditional sense, it is not like you are Leonardo Da Vinci, but you can still feel satisfied and fulfilled by being a really good shoemaker, you provide an effort and you see the result: You make really good shoes. Your customers come and go, they praise you for your handy work, you train your pupil, teach him the secrets of how to make the shoes just tight enough but not uncomfortable. Then, imagine you work in a shoe factory, your labor is simply this, hundreds of identical shoes go by you through the production band and your job is to stamp the logo on each of them repetitively. You waste your years away by making the same robotic movements over and over again. Now, this is of course a very black and white example, in today's world, a lot of jobs are a little bit of both. But what Doomforge heard, and I heard this anecdote too before, that "Americans live to work, Europeans work to live" is actually pointing at the same difference, that European cultrue is more focused on what your effort provides in return, in terms of happiness, while the U.S. culture is more focused on getting ahead in a race and maknig that the very purpose of life itself. Is it an unfair generalization, probably, frankly, I havent met that many career people from both sides to be able to compare. There are also differences within Europe itself, I find the Mediterranean countries much more relaxed and easy-going in this regard, compared to Nordic ones. But overall, you can say there is indeed a cultural influence, even if not a completely dominating one, on how people define and frame work.
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Doomforge
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posted March 01, 2018 05:50 PM

artu said:
But what Doomforge heard, and I heard this anecdote too before, that "Americans live to work, Europeans work to live" is actually pointing at the same difference, that European cultrue is more focused on what your effort provides in return, in terms of happiness, while the U.S. culture is more focused on getting ahead in a race and maknig that the very purpose of life itself.


More or less so, yes. Let's clarify one thing, though: I'm totally against any form of generalization.

However, there's usually a sentiment towards particular work ethic in a country. For example, Japan has its own word for "death from overwork". That speaks volumes about the sentiment towards work (esp. officework in a corporation). That's the kind of thing I want to know.

For example, in Poland, it would be considered extremely impolite to suggest NOT taking paid leave. In fact, it would be breaking the law. Clashing with a culture where taking long paid holiday is considered (in turn) impolite could be difficult to me.

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Salamandre
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posted March 01, 2018 05:58 PM

Doomforge said:

I've come across an interesting opinion - that in general, in Europe, people "work to live" while in US, China and Japan people "live to work". What's your take on the situation?


This is poppycock, people need to survive thus need to make money because surviving requires a lot of money (surprise), so you always produce paid work for a living, not living for a work. The majority of people over the world are so poor that they could not survive one single month without that job income so speculating on what you would do to your boss or suing him, if you are part of that majority, is pure bragging, you just can't do that. Suing your boss and settle the chances or winning on your side will cost you about one year of income, except if the boss is an idiot and he really screwed, which is very unlikely. With the rudeness of the concurrence nowadays, becoming a boss or attaining any high steps in the pyramid asks high adaptive intelligence. Of course no one will stomp you if you go really ill, but most people abuse of this and bosses are not that stupid.  

Then, a minority can survive without working if they worked enough before, thus they have a lot of savings. Then even a thinner minority can also choose to not work at all because they can parasitize their family, spouse, mum or dad, but this is very rare. In the largest parts of the world, it is the opposite, after midlife you have to start paying for your mum and dad survival, so this requires careful planning.

About work boredom, its a cruel reality, more or less and depending of the nature of your work - human interaction or not, the latest being the hardest to handle. But whatever is your work, if legal and honest, it always provides a service to some community then refloats the funds vital to the 50% who don't work and depend on you. Without people working, those who don't work - for various reasons, would experiment entire social classes slow agony.

I have friends working in the States and they will never come back, it seems. Low taxes, bigger freedom in your commercial and artistic choices, a correct retribution and over the top, a stirring  and competitive environment, from what they say. To not conflate with Japan, which is indeed the nightmare of the sensible workman, where profit and competition have priority over human well-being and healthy social interactions. China is different both from America and Japan, but that would require a very very long post. Already 15 years that I have students coming from Asia and USA and I am still amazed on how many core differences are in their approach of everything, discipline, freedom, wisdom, cultural or artificially constructed respect and so on. Which give best results, from my experience alone?  Koreans and Chinese, in THIS order.

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Doomforge
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posted March 01, 2018 06:01 PM

Sal, you would be surprised, but no, that ain't bragging. Poles actually sue their former employers very often upon being fired for unjust reasons to "labor courts". Getting fired over taking a holiday is pretty much a guaranteed win. If you win, your former employer is forced to pay you for the time you missed, and re-hire you instantly (if you want to - most people obviously don't).

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Salamandre
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posted March 01, 2018 06:14 PM

Maybe Poland is a different world -I am clueless about- but actually suing a boss is very costly and a lot of people can NOT afford it, even if they are sure to win. For example, in Romania which is not far, the state confiscated my mother house because of nationalization, then she had the choice to sue the state and was guaranteed a 100% win.

Except that the entire thing was expected to last 5 years, and even with my efforts combined, we could not afford the astronomical cost of lawyers. Conclusion, she lost her house she bought with her entire life savings, and now its me who pays the bills, monthly, moreover she suffered a depression she never made it from. So people who win in courts are already in possession of solid resources, most of times.

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artu
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posted March 01, 2018 06:20 PM
Edited by artu at 18:20, 01 Mar 2018.

@Doomforge

Hmm, well you see, how you approach to taking a paid leave, I guess, is also about what your position actually is. Let me elaborate, let's say we are a company trying to invent a new radar system. There are the guys on the bottom, who are in charge of technical details, one takes a leave, the other easily replaces him. Then, there are the ones, who are actually inventing the stuff, say, two of those inventors have their vacation time coming up, one goes "oh, finally," the other one goes "screw the vacation, we are so close to making this happen, this new radar is making me lose my sleep at night." It's easy to see how the second one will be seen as more commited and valuable. So, it still comes down to loving what you do, at least partially. For instance, I like writing, so I create myself excuses to write, even when it has nothing to do with literature and when I'm not "professionally" writing, when I feel blocked, even when I just want to  rest. Why do you think I never miss a chance on a debate here, it's one of the many opportunities of not taking your fingers off the keyboard, a way of not getting rusty. I don't think of it as work though, actually, had someone ordered me to write, I'd give them the finger. So I think, alienation is still the key concept here, the problem is not that people reduce life into work, the problem is they reduce it into work that gives them no pleasure. Not everybody has a chance to do what they love of course, I hear you on that, but I don't think it's as binary as "Discovery Channel adventurer versus toilet cleaner."
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Minion
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posted March 01, 2018 06:22 PM

I don't know if this is a stereotype but yes even my American teacher said that she found it peculiar that asking what you do for a living does not come up in a conversation here until you have known someone for a while. And in US it is always the first thing you ask, even when talking to a stranger. So I am familiar with the concept Doom is talking about. But like I said I don't know how true it is.

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OhforfSake
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posted March 01, 2018 06:23 PM

@Artu

I don't know if it is a special case with inventors or researchers who perhaps in principle can take part of their job with them, but I am certain DF is correct that it can be very troublesome for the work place if the workers don't take the leave they are due, at least it is the same situation where I am from, as far as I know.

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fred79
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posted March 01, 2018 06:25 PM
Edited by fred79 at 18:27, 01 Mar 2018.

/off-topic:

Salamandre said:
Conclusion, she lost her house she bought with her entire life savings, and now its me who pays the bills, monthly, moreover she suffered a depression she never made it from. So people who win in courts are already in possession of solid resources, most of times.


that shows how society is rigged against the general public. you have to know somebody on the inside(or who has manipulative weight)or be at the top of your field to get the highest-paying jobs in the u.s.  the people with all the money have all the control. the people without it, tend to be the controlled. it's only after the common people show their power en masse, that the scales shift back in their favor. but it always shifts back to the rich/powerful regardless, because the general public always become complacent again. and then it's just individuals against a monopoly of power all over again.

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Doomforge
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posted March 01, 2018 06:32 PM

Sal:

In Poland it's next to free. The labour courts are a different entity compared to regular (fairly expensive) courts.

refer to section 9 if it piqued your curiosity.

https://iclg.com/practice-areas/employment-and-labour-law/employment-and-labour-law-2017/poland


Fred:

From what I gathered, compared to Europe, it seems that it's great to be an employer/business over in America because there's much less tax, less regulation, and you can exploit your workers to great extent compared to Europe, such as firing them without reason, denying them paid leave, etc.

But it seems that regular 9-to-5 job is generally much worse than in Europe, since people are more OK to work overtime in general, don't expect as much free time and in general very attached to the companies they work at, finding it harder to disconnect.

It may as well be BS, or exaggeration. I'd like to know.



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fred79
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posted March 01, 2018 06:46 PM

i've never worked in europe, so i couldn't give you an accurate comparison of the two work environments or their mindframes. from what i see, most people over here who are worried about their jobs have a lot to lose, or to prove. i'd imagine that's typical anywhere, though. but we also have capitalism over here, so it might just be considered a race in this country. i've mentioned that before already, and in other threads, too. i'm not particularly fond of that way of thinking; i in fact, despise it. putting a price tag on life in general is both morally corrupt and stupid. i think many forget that we're part of a larger natural picture, and that we all die in the end, the same as everything else. if you actually enjoy being told what to do by someone who gets paid way more than you, go for it. but that's not me.

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artu
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My BS sensor is tingling again
posted March 01, 2018 07:04 PM
Edited by artu at 19:06, 01 Mar 2018.

Salamandre said:
Doomforge said:

I've come across an interesting opinion - that in general, in Europe, people "work to live" while in US, China and Japan people "live to work". What's your take on the situation?


This is poppycock, people need to survive thus need to make money because surviving requires a lot of money (surprise), so you always produce paid work for a living, not living for a work. The majority of people over the world are so poor that they could not survive one single month without that job income

All true, but the anecdote is rather comparing upper-middle class Americans with upper-middle class Europeans. Working class is pretty much the same everywhere. (The version I heard didnt involve Japan or China, but in Far-Eastern cultures, labor is "sacred" in a very different way anyhow, it's part of a modesty that is also considered wisdom, I once read a guy who ties that (regarding China) to their agriculture historically depending on rice, rice is an extremely hard plant to get crops from, you have to pay attention all through the year and then you get very little in return, where as wheat or barley, you cultivate for 3 or 4 months and then sit back.)
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