Work is Taxing

Writer’s block is easily cured with a second cup of coffee, I’ve learned. Clearly, caffeine strokes the ego of my neurons just like they like and I’m again full of things to say.

This week I’ve been thinking about work. The concept of work in general, not my work in particular. I love my work, my colleagues and my supervisors and I hesitate to say that too loudly as I know it’s a rare situation and others would have my head out of insane jealousy.

I just attended the retirement celebration of a dear friend who celebrated 37 years at the same place; different jobs within, but the same employer. It made me misty when she talked of the lessons she learned and processes she perfected. I won’t ever have that. I have already switched my career choices three times and have had so many different employers, it’s hard to imagine I’d accumulate 37 years with any one of them.

Our generation isn’t likely to do that, anyway, but it made me wonder where do we accumulate our life lessons, our professional habits and our perfected processes? Or, does it take 37 years? Are we more efficient and we figure out the routines of a job quickly and move on?

Statistically, that’s true. My generation, when I graduated college, was told we would have five different careers–not jobs–careers. I like that idea. I like the idea of fresh ideas, new spaces, new interactions, new projects. I like, as Penelope Trunk instructs, the thought of contributing your new ideas to an old group, breathing life into it, gleaning all you can, and moving on.
I like building. Building not just my resume, but the kinds of interactions, workplaces and habits that come with a new job.

It is funny that I witnessed the life accomplishment of a retirement this week and came home to find a letter from the IRS who is very upset with my tax filings last year where my meager (VERY meager) income from my adjunct teaching gig is now costing me nearly 30% of that income in taxes. It makes the second job not worth it at all. How is that possible? I sought out extra work to patch together more income at a time where my business has frozen cost of living and step-increase wages for management. I feel like I am the ultimate capitalist worker, seeking out more ways to produce and earn. Yet, the math of my minimal extra earnings, tied to my non-moving-upward current salary have left me paying in MORE to the very government I feel like I’m performing the capitalism for.

I’m all for taxes, but I really just can’t believe it’s my particular tax bracket that should be paying. I’m sure I’m getting screwed for being single, which is a whole ‘nother blog, for if I were married on this salary, I’d be getting giant refunds every year. If I had taken on $150k in mortgage debt that I know in my heart I really can’t afford (but if I had done it anyway because we’re all told we’re supposed to want to own a house), I know I’d be reaping some tax benefits too. But I’m here, just me, spending frivolously on coffee and deli sandwiches, parking and new shoes, and I’m getting penalized for wanting to work more.

This further adds to my confusion that we’re told people like my retiring friend–dedicating 37 years to one company–are relics and we job hoppers and career makers are the wave of the future. Funny, I’m being punished for multiple careers and I wonder if I just settled into one and stayed put, invested, put in financial roots in the community, in my household, would I profit more?

Sure, my bank account would probably stabilize, but I think my emotional self would go bankrupt. I am going to have to pay more than a $1,000 extra dollars to the IRS to support my single, renting, multiple job holding, credit card-indebted, spending self. Good thing I still have a pretty rich soul.

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maryt1 View All →

Feminist, activist, outdoor advocate, animal lover, chocolate shake lover, reader, watcher, talker, actor, speaker, worker, writer, urban adventurer, hustler, involved, passionate, excited, ready.

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