The people there are nuts. The working conditions are lousy. The pay would be laughable if you didn't need it so much. All in all, you hate your job.

Yesterday a woman asked about retirement. Did I like it? Yes, very much. She sighed. "I just can't decide." I suggested that if she couldn't make up her mind, she wasn't ready to retire. "Oh, I'm ready," she assured me. So what's the holdup? As we walked away, my husband, who knows her better than I do, commented that it's the money that kept her working. I understand that, because retirement can bring financial constraints, but keep working when you could retire on a pension and do something you really want to do? I can't understand that.

Many work because they have to, because the only thing keeping the wolves from the door is a bi-weekly paycheck. I'm afraid the majority are in that category, but most don't mind the job. Sure, we imagine when the alarm goes off what we'd do if we didn't have to punch in, but all in all, it's okay. It keeps us busy, makes us feel useful, and pays the bills.

When I talk to people who hate their jobs, I can empathize. There was a time when I resented, not my job, but the people who made it more difficult, the people I had to work with every day. I recognize now that they were just doing what they thought was right, but at the time I could have cheerfully punched any one of several coworkers most days. Sometimes that creates a bad attitude. In A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN the drunken manager, played to perfection by Tom Hanks, is so frustrated with the group he has to work with that he does as little as possible and almost sabotages the whole enterprise. Sometimes it creates a sense of irony. Who can't relate to the frustrations of working with a gang of loons such as we saw on "WKRP" or "Taxi" or "Just Shoot Me"?

So what do we hate? A job that's stultifying, coworkers who are irritating, bosses who are incompetent, power-mad or both, and conditions that make us frustrated, hopeless, and even sick. What do we do about it? Most of us learn to cope. Best, I think, is learning to laugh about it, something that's hard to do but effective. We hear of black humor among cops and EMTs, we create sitcom humor about the workplace, and we enjoy reading the adventures of protags with odd or unsavory jobs. Work is what we do, for whatever reason, and we may as well laugh at the day-to-day troubles. Because crying isn't allowed in baseball...or at the office.

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