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For a lot of years now, the news has been bombarding us with headlines falsely accusing people
of not wanting to work anymore. We have all heard this, at least once. Yet I believe that these
complaints lack a critical reconsideration of the reasons behind this “lack of productivity”, not
taking the time to investigate the reasons behind such issues, which are, most of the time,
mediocre work conditions, and dehumanization towards the ones who work for a higher capital.

The issue rises most when these work conditions are labeled as “normal”, especially with the
conviction that it’s the only way to induce productivity, therefore helping collect wealth. The
employee’s physical health is already poorly considered, let alone their mental health which is
completely alienated and ignored. The so-called normal hierarchy in the workplace has created a
normalized power game, between employees where the employer tosses the first ball of
inappropriate boundary crossing and dehumanization, then that ball is passed from one employee
to another, getting bigger each time, until it barely reaches the bottom.

Being a student who worked for a total of 2 months, as a part-time waitress in two different bars,
and being surrounded by my peers who also study and work in the same field, has helped me
understand that the enemy isn’t supposed to be called “laziness” or “lack of productivity”, but
rather “boss” or “manager”. With an overwhelming lack of sense of responsibility, organization,
patience, respect, consideration, empathy, and proper management, mixed with highly irrealistic
expectations, and a thirst for power, adding the low minimum wage as a cherry on the top, and
we find ourselves with a mild form of modern slavery. According to the traditional values of the
workplace, employees, equal fellow human beings, are usually expected to “gain” their respect or
worth by placing themselves below their boss, not only on a professional level but also on a
personal level. They should never talk back to whoever holds a superior position, even when
humiliated or insulted. An employee is always expected to take it in, nod, and get the job done
even if the information is missed.

However, not only professional hierarchal positions will determine whether, as an employee, you
will get poorly treated or not. Gender, age, economical status (how badly you need the job), and
sometimes even ethnic origins, play a central role that will determine the worth you’re initially
attributed to until you prove your obedience and satisfy the hungry and deeply hurt ego of your
manager. The less social privilege you have, the more you’re likely to be exposed to such
treatments and can become a target of a “punching bag”, for the manager or an employee whose
position is higher than yours.
Being a young 23-year-old woman, hired with no experience in bars and restaurants, nor planning
on turning it into a lifetime career, I have been humiliated, belittled, and patronized for not
showing the same enthusiasm as a 40-year-old sommelier, to understand and learn about the
different types of cheese and charcuterie, without even being communicated nor tasked to do so
from the beginning. I have also been gaslit for wanting the day off for my health because having
the flu wasn’t a “good enough” excuse to skip work.

My story is probably one of the sweetest stories I have personally heard. The level of exploitation
and normalization of such behavior is still significantly high. Yet complaining about it isn’t a picnic
either, while the most frequent response I have personally heard was “well that’s how things work,
whether you accept it or you leave it.”
Seeing the conditions one has to put up with only to get paid a sum that’s barely above a
mediocre wage, I think it’s only wise to choose to stay home, enjoy welfare, and hope for things
to get better, without having to jeopardize one’s own mental well-being.

So maybe people are starting to wake up and question the old systems, as they should. This
excessive refusal to work in some fields is an act of rebellion against it. As someone who doesn’t
believe in the existence of laziness as an inherent human behavior, I believe we have to start
treating such issues with more critical thinking, considering hidden truths, or rather less popular
ones rather than keeping on pointing fingers in the void. It is important to practice our basic
human qualities such as empathy, compassion, and understanding if we want things to take a
more just and efficient path.

Safa Medini

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