Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 8/28/2008 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - Happy Labor Day

Martha's Big Adventure - Happy Labor Day

By Martha Randolph Carr

Here's to all of us who go to work every day because there are bills to be paid. That leaves out the top end who work to make even more money and the bottom end who have figured out a way to have no bills at all. Middle America, this is your holiday. Sit back and take a load off.

Let's give a special hurrah to all those who work the late shift, a double shift or have a career that has nothing to do with the degree they got in college. At some point, pragmatism came along and smacked these people in the head and they set out to find a job. Three cheers for setting a fine example for the younger generation.

The way to tell if you're sitting at a job or embarked on a career is if you stress the benefits, like medical and dental, to your neighbors when describing what you do for a living. Everyone nods their head, noting how nice that is to get your teeth cleaned for free but no one asks what your next move is going to be.

If it's a job your brain is often scanning for perks and hoping that maybe you can mold this into something else. If it's a career you're reading books on how to get ahead and sweet-talking the boss. Both have their upsides to them.

A job is something that's easy to leave at the end of the day and head home. No paperwork to lug and what needs to be done while you're working is usually very clearly defined. The emphasis in your life tends to be family and friends, which a lot of people would argue is saner and leads to better marriages and well-adjusted kids. When you're old you won't be reminiscing about that case you won or contract that was signed. Instead, the image will have more familiar faces and you'll be remembered more as a good friend than a competent colleague. That's all good stuff.

However, jobs tend to rock and roll with the state of the economy and if you're not a saver it can seem like a precarious existence. Take a moment this holiday weekend and look at your financial picture. If your savings account doesn't have enough to pay all the bills for at least six months make a resolution to start putting away 10% of every dime that comes your way. Start this holiday and check back in a year to see what that one small change does for your bottom line and your peace of mind.

Careers tend to come with better clothes and opportunities for personal fulfillment and monetary rewards. But here, the price you pay may be the semblance of a life outside of that one little definition. That's why getting fired from a career can feel like a slip off a ladder and crash into core definitions we've created for ourselves. All those late hours can make it possible to forget who we really are outside of where we work. This is your chance to examine that area of your life and ask a few pointed questions.

If your small child runs to the phone when your spouse says, 'Daddy's home,' ask if it's time to cut back on your hours. If you can easily tick off who everyone is in your suite of offices but can't remember your children's teacher's names or even the first and last names of your next-door-neighbors, see if you can fit a backyard barbeque in your schedule. Make the guest list about neighbors and friends just this once and spend time asking questions that have nothing to do with work.

There's one last suggestion for all of us this holiday weekend. Say a thank you to those who've retired, both from job or career, after a long life of showing up on time and ready to work and were always there when you needed them. They're the ones who set the fine example for us about how to be of service and get paid for it. More adventures to follow.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: Wish Martha a Happy Birthday this holiday weekend at: or visit

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Download Martha Randolph Carr's black and white mug shot photo.

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