Today was my first day where I wasn’t formally employed while in Buenos Aires. It felt good not to have anywhere special to be and it brought back this conversation I’d overheard about a week ago while standing at the bus stop. There were two blond American girls. You can tell Americans by their hair, their clothes, and that they speak English loudly in American accents. I sidled closer to try hear if they were speaking English. Finding people who speak English thinking that no one around them understands is an amazing voyeuristic pleasure. When we got on the bus I was able to get closer and overhear. One was telling her friend about her plans now that she had been living here in Buenos Aires for about 6 months.
“Why would I work for $10 an hour. In a few years I’ll make ten times that. Why not enjoy my time here? It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“Yeah,” her friend said, “You don’t want to waste it.”
And here we have a whole worldview. You see, there is this idea in the states that during your adult life (called Real World) if you’re not contributing to corporate America then you’re shirking your duty. Children, the senile, the mentally handicapped, and students are generally excepted from this. But on graduation, every student knows what they’re in for. These girls, I assumed from looking at them, had just graduated. Many new graduates take a parentally funded trip abroad to “experience the world” before heading on to the Real World.
Now you may think I’m about to judge them for thinking that they are immature and lazy. On the contrary, traveling is an amazing way to find yourself. However, working in another country enhances the experience you’d have and does not diminish it. There are tons of jobs you can get in other countries which you would never be qualified to do back home. But in a worldview where you work for money, work can be seen as a chore rather than an opportunity. These girls were trying to avoid the Real World (which is a pretty terrible place) by putting off working, but work isn’t the issue.
If you do it right, most fun things are lots of work. The only thing is that because you enjoy what you’re doing, you don’t call it “work”. Getting paid for doing what you want to do is the goal, but apparently these girls seemed to have such a dreary idea of work that they were willing to pass up the experience of getting out into the community in order to avoid it.