Of Rat Races and Fast Cars

golden-handcuffsIt seems everyone these days is trying to get out of the rat race. I keep seeing all these articles shared on Facebook and Twitter about the “golden handcuffs” and the endless fruitless rat race. I guess they are supposed to open our eyes; make us stop being fooled by the flashy cars and surface lifestyles that hide the quiet desperation of employees worldwide.

It’s a trap, they claim. Do I agree? Can I plead the fifth? I’ll be Switzerland on this one.

Picture a lab rat running around in circles in a maze or in a cage (these cruel scientists!!). That’s basically the definition of the rat race: a fruitless pursuit and an endless race that never ends. There is a reason why they call climbing the corporate ladder a rat race. It’s the endless pursuit of nothingness. The pursuit is usually for more money, which leads to a better lifestyle. The thing about it is that the effort required to acquire and maintain that level of remuneration is quite high: we are talking late nights at the office, out of town trips, taking work home and working on weekends, and on and on it goes; more money, more work; more work, more money.

Sadly, what happens is that the employee does not really get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. They can buy the car and the house and all other gadgets and trinkets, but their expectations of how to utilize these assets are not met. Work always seems to get in the way. Someone once made a joke that the 42 inch TV and premium DSTV subscription in his house, together with the expensive leather couches and lush carpet are all for his house girl, because he and his wife never have the time to enjoy these things, seeing as they are at work all day. Sad isn’t it?

So, these articles that are being published left, right and centre are all advocating for snapping out of our bubbles and seeing the reality: we are indeed in a fruitless race. Why not do what you love if the rat race means that you will lose out in the end? Let’s go down swinging! If we are going to be broke, would it not be better that we were broke doing what we love instead of getting fired or being victims of downsizing at the jobs we don’t love? We will still be broke either way. Why not sacrifice ourselves on the altar of happiness instead of the altar of success that may be fleeting?

These are not my thoughts but those gleaned from various sources, just in case you decide to attack me. Thought provoking stuff, huh? All I want you to do is think about it. Weigh all your arguments and look at all the angles. You may be surprised.

As Tracy Chapman sings,

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Any place is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
Me myself I got nothing to prove

You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way
~ Fast Car

Am I the only one seeing the blatant coercion going on there?

  1. Any place is better
  2. Start from zero, you’ve got nothing to lose
  3. We can fly away from the rat’s maze
  4. If we don’t leave tonight we will live and die this way

That last line gets me. Do I want to live and die this way?

You might also like: