I’ve worked for the same company for four years now.  In that time, I’ve experienced one pay cut and no raises.  I don’t complain about this very often, because I’m just glad that I have a place to work that pays me.  But seriously—when did having a place to work become a job perk?

I hear stories from my parents and grandparents about these things they call “raises.”  When someone gave you a raise, they actually added money on to your hourly or yearly rate of pay.  It was a time of plenty, when employers had a sense of respect for their employees, when your effort was rewarded with extra presidents in your pocket.  These raises were a rare and magnificent breed—magical even—but they seem to have gone extinct around the time I became old enough to be legally employed.

While the old raises were built on the idea of positive reinforcement, the new ones seem to be built on the negative kind.  My mom has worked as a nurse practitioner for over five years with the same company, and she hasn’t been given a raise.  Instead, when she tries to bring the idea up in conversation, her employers tell her that she should be glad she still has a job with them.

What the hell?  What the HELL?

Since when did the absence of bad things become something we should be happy about?  I don’t spend my life thinking, “Hey, it’s really nice that I didn’t get mauled by a pack of dogs today.”  I spend my life looking forward to good things, like the weekend, or an excellent doughnut.

Or think about it this way.  Every year we have a birthday.  We expect at least a small gift, in recognition of our successful completion of a year of our lives.  What would we say if someone gave us the gift of congratulating us for being not dead? Thanks?

I hope that some time in the near future we can find some raise DNA in an lump of congealed sap somewhere and start getting to work on the cloning process.  We’re hard workers.  We deserve it.

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