Robert & Roberta Adair



Stories from Robert & Roberta Adair

(warning in advance: this post has next to nothing to do with Christmas.)

I just looked up the word “workaholic” on  The 3rd definition listed was this:

A person who is addicted to working, to the point where their life consists only of work and sleep. They have very few friends, if any, and some rarely see their own families.
Workaholics often suffer from fatigue, sleeping disorders, stress and stress-related ailments, and some eventually work themselves to death. Workaholics are a common sight in some East Asian countries, but are less prevalent in North America and even less in Europe.

I’m curious what can be done when you aren’t a natural workaholic, but you live in a culture that makes you, squeezes you, forces you to be one.  Quit?  My friend yesterday told me that her husband works at a restaurant.  He’s a dad of 2 kids (2 and 8 years old).  He works from 8am to 11pm and gets “most” Sundays off (that’s 90 hours/week.  that’s twice what he “should” be working).  My other friend said that her husband leaves at 7:30am and gets home at 10:30pm most nights.

Then this morning, I talked with yet another friend whose husband goes to work at 7 or 8am and comes home late at night –  lately 10pm being the earliest and 3am being the latest.  He often works Saturdays and is occasionally called in to work on Sundays.  He’s a Christian who wants to prioritize time with his wife – but he also needs to work.  It took him 10 months to find this job.  My idea of him quitting and finding a 40 hour/week job…isn’t (likely) an option.  But this to me is unfathomable.  Absurd.  Unnecessary.  Exploitive.

My mom friends who aren’t believers seem to have “gotten used to it” – in that when their husbands are home, it’s tiring for them (the moms).  They just have someone else they have to take care of.  Their husbands are worse than kids – they’re pickier eaters, have higher expectations, are bossier, and don’t like to be corrected or asked to help.  They’ve, in my view, accepted lousy marriages and their husbands’  lousy working hours.  (with shrugged shoulders and the word that I kind of hate right now: shouganai – it can’t be helped.)

This stinks.

This is messed up.

This is a system that is broken and needs to be fixed.

Who will fix it?  Not me (a foreigner and someone not in the traditional workforce).  Not the scores of young people who are rejecting this altogether and are either mooching off their parents or working at convenient stores.  Not the bosses who had to work ridiculous hours themselves – sacrificing relationships and health (and perhaps sanity) to get to where they are.

I’m not an economist, and I’ve never even had a “real” job (like in an office).  And I don’t know squat about workers rights, productivity, and labor markets.  But I sure am curious about the comparison of Germany and Japan.  Both are countries that have been prosperous, who are viewed globally as hard-working and of producing quality products.  Yet, from what I understand, German workers don’t do crazy overtime and they get a ton of vacation time.  …Which, to me, means that “it can be done.”

I want to start a revolution.  I want to see people leave their jobs when the “you’re done for the day” 5:00pm music comes on.  I want Robert’s students (little kids) to have what I had as a kid: a dad who walks in the door after a long day at work at 6pm.  I want them, too, to yell, “Daddy’s home!” and before the man can take off his jacket,  swarm him and “make him” play with them until dinner time.  I want them to eat as a family – to see their mums and pops interacting, to be read to by dad, and to be in close proximity as a family regularly.  (I write this and realize I sound pretty traditional, but nearly all of the moms that I know either don’t work or work part-time.  the lack of women – particularly mums – in the labor market is another topic for another day.)

So what am I to do?  Is it healthy to plant a seed of discontentment (hint at a better way) in the moms and see them want more time from their husbands?  Is it better to do this with the dads…or on a company level?  Is it better to just listen and pray?  I don’t know what to do, but I hope somehow and in someway I can do something.

Because something needs to be done.  This is something that, from my vantage point, “Can and Must Be Helped.”

(Is something being done that I’m unaware of?)

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