By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Americans are workers.
Every day we roll up our sleeves and go to work building, selling, teaching, computing, insuring, healing, fixing, cleaning, cooking, serving, even writing to earn our daily bread.
And, for the most part, we hate every minute of it.
A recent Gallup poll found the majority of Americans polled hate their jobs.
The poll measured American workers’ engagement level with their jobs.
Some 30 percent of workers polled said they were engaged, involved, enthusiastic and committed to their jobs. The rest say they are either not engaged in their work, meaning they are going through the motions, or are actively disengaged, meaning they hate what they do.
Which makes one wonder if these people hate their jobs more than the 346,000 Americans who filed for unemployment benefits this month hate being without work?
Those who despise their employment situation or who simply warm a seat and waste oxygen while at work, reportedly cost the U.S. some $550 billion in economic activity annually.
These workers undermine their companies with their attitudes, says Gallup, which is a good way to get fired.
Unfortunately, the changing media landscape has resulted in many of my colleagues in the newspaper business losing their jobs in recent years.
Just last week, the Portland Oregonian announced it was laying off nearly 100 of its 650 employees, including almost a quarter of the paper’s editorial staff.
Sadly, that in itself is not unusual. What was odd is that one of the employees handed a pink slip was the editor’s wife.
Liz Dahl, who was the paper’s commentary editor, is also Mrs. Peter Bhatia, the Oregonian’s editor-in-chief. Dahl was among the Oregonian employees losing their jobs.
Initial reports were that Bhatia himself made the decision to lay off his wife, but he disputes this, saying in a Facebook post that as editor he had no control over the editorial page staff, which is separate from the news staff. That is good news for the Bhatias, since sacking one’s own spouse could make for some uncomfortable pillow talk.
Bhatia did, however, decide to lay off a husband and wife team, veteran editors Randy Cox and Joany Carlin, despite knowing that Cox is battling advanced kidney cancer.
Most newspaper people I know are not among the majority of American workers who hate their jobs.
You have to love this job to do it well, given the fact you can make more money and work better hours in many other occupations.
Some prominent people who seemed to love their jobs have gotten fired recently.
George Zimmer, founder of Men’s Wearhouse and the guy who uttered the iconic line, “You’re gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it,” in the company’s TV ads, was fired not because the board of directors didn’t like the way he looked, but because of a power struggle and his desire to sell the company to a private investment group.
Butter wouldn’t melt in Paula Deen’s mouth, just in her recipes.
But she was fired by the Food Network recently, home of her cooking show, as well as sponsors Target, Home Depot, Walmart, JCPenney, Sears, Caesar’s Entertainment and Smithfield Foods, not because she was responsible for raising America’s cholesterol, but because she used racial slurs in the past.
Some people get fired for some pretty unusual reasons. Iowa dental assistant Melissa Nelson loved her job for the 10 years she spent working for Dr. James Knight.
Or she did, at least, until he fired her. He sacked her not for incompetence or having a bad attitude, but for being irresistible.
Knight fired Nelson, a married mother of two, on orders from his wife, who also worked in the dental office, after she found out about the two exchanging text messages about both work and personal matters. The couple, after consulting with their pastor, decided it best to terminate Nelson in order to save their marriage.
For the record I love my job and consider myself lucky to have it.
And I hope I never get fired, no matter how irresistible I might be.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.