*Hard Work Face-Off #1: Social Worker ($30,000/yr) vs. MN Vikings Running Back, Adrian Perterson ($17,000,000/yr)
Being a Social Worker requires an advanced education and requires doing some of the hardest, most emotionally taxing, most necessary work out there. Yet a Social Worker who devotes her life to saving children from abusive homes barely takes home enough pay in a year to cover what Adrian Peterson stuffs in his baby’s diaper in a single month.
Now, there are a number or reasonable opinions about the value of the work of athletes, and personally, I’d let Adrian Peterson stuff hundred dollar bills in my diaper all day, if he had an interest in doing such a thing. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy, I’m not saying he’s not as beautiful and mouthwatering as a chocolate statue carved by the hands of the gods themselves, I’m not even saying that his salary is unjustified. What I’m saying is that he doesn’t work harder than every single person who makes less money than him. He MIGHT be more awesome than 1 Social Worker, but he’s certainly NOT not more awesome than 566.66 Social Workers combined. Just sayin’.
*Hard Work Face-Off #2: Myself (5 figures per year) vs. An African Grandmother Carrying a Giant Bag of Onions (3 figures per year)
Let’s start with me, and a week in my exciting life. Most of the people who know me would say I work pretty hard. I have two jobs and I go to school part-time. On weekdays, I earn my keep by listening to people’s complaints about their vaginal discharge and their broken condoms, and delivering unwelcome news like “we don’t have any appointments today,” and “your nearest abortion provider is 6 hours away,” and “healthcare costs money.” On weekends, I mostly listen to complaints about the fact that the hotel rooms don’t have refrigerators, and deliver bad news like, “the airport shuttle is made of matter, and therefore the laws of physics prevent it from being everywhere at all times.”
My opponent in this match-up is no invention of my addled mind, but rather is drawn from a scene from my life: I was riding on a bus through the countryside outside of Nairobi, Kenya, and across the aisle from me was an elderly woman travelling with a sack of onions that was at least the size of her entire tiny body. When she signaled the bus to stop, I got up and attempted to help her with the onion bag. Well, my plump, desk job, First World arms failed me, and I found that the bag was too large and too cumbersome for me to move. She thanked me for trying, waved me off, hoisted the onions on her back, climbed off the bus, and headed away on foot. This woman makes her living growing goods, transporting those goods through unnatural feats of strength, selling the goods herself, and then undoubtedly returns home to duties like cooking, cleaning, and childcare.
At the end of MY week, my reward is a living wage, a warm bed, and a quarter (ok, maybe a half) of a box of wine. At the end of HER week, her biggest reward is that she didn’t die of starvation or exposure, and if she’s lucky, none of her dependents did either. When you lay your eyes upon unfairness like that, you can never forget that it exists, or ever fully tame the instinct to HULK SMASH when people insist that material wealth correlates perfectly with hard work.
(t.l, d.r.: Social Workers are underpaid, I’d wear a diaper for Adrian Peterson, and everyone should quit saying that rich people work harder than non-rich people)