August 13th, 2009


How High School Isn't Like Being Employed, Unless Things Are Going Very Badly For You.

I recently had the pleasure of talking to a young woman who was just about to enter her Junior year of high school. She was a smart student who had, in my opinion, a very mature outlook for her age. She told me about how her teachers and councilors were telling her all about how the rigors of high school life were preparing her for the rigors of being an adult. They told her that the working world is far more difficult than High School - that in High School, she was being sheltered, protected.

I was happy to tell her what a load of bullshit that idea is. I remember that line well myself. Sure, high school has it's highlights, it's good points. And yet my life now is far better than my time high school. The downsides of high school are so degrading that if they existed in my life now, I would consider things to be going poorly.


I can carry over the counter drugs with me at work. If I get a headache, I can take them, at my own discretion. I can carry drugs that have been prescribed to me by my doctor at work, and I can take them whenever I feel it is appropriate.

If I am sexually harassed or assaulted at work, I can report it, and that person will be suspended and probably fired and I will no longer have to work with them. In high school, if no one is bleeding, who the hell cares if someone touched your breasts? (Answer: NO ONE)

Anyone who assaulted me at work, for any reason, would be fired.

As an adult, I can go to the bathroom whenever I want. I do not need my bosses permission to go to the bathroom. I do not need to avoid drinking any fluids so that I don't need to pee until 3pm.

If I go to a job interview, and I notice that the facilities are terrible, I cannot be forced to work there. In fact, I cannot be coerced into taking any employment that I find unacceptable. I am free to search for a job that is best suited to my skills that has an environment that is pleasant to work in.

If I work at a place where bullying is accepted, it is not against the law for me to quit.

On that topic, I can leave my job at any time. Though it is polite to give as much notice as possible, if I find the work environment to be unacceptable I can leave. Sure, there may be financial and career consequences, but I can legally leave if I want to.

I may choose the hour during which I eat.

I may drink water at my desk during the day. This isn't seen as an insult to my boss. It's just seen as drinking water.

I may wear a hat whenever I like.

If there is an emergency, I can leave my workplace to attend to the problem.

If a co-worker steals my belongings, it is a firing offense.

I understand that high school is different than work - high school is full of children, children who sometimes cannot be trusted to give themselves over the counter drugs, children who have legal rights to an education despite their penchant for sexual harassment.

The working world can also be demanding - we are expected to work hard to earn our pay. But I would much rather work hard than be in a environment that is degrading, where I fear for my physical safety, where violation is common-place, where the facilities are filthy.

If my life now was like high school, if my "real life" as they say, was at all like the lack of freedom and harassment I experienced while in high school, then things wouldn't be going well for me at all. Perhaps then, that is how high school prepares you for real life - but showing you what you have to work hard to stay away from - how your earning power gives you freedoms that if you lost, you would lose your freedoms as well. Perhaps high school is a warning for the young mind - fail, and you will go someplace very much like here, except in that place, there isn't a prom.
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