Reclaiming Time on the Clock

clock_spiralMusings from a library worker about the burdens of wage labor, dreams of liberation, & reclaiming your time on the clock.

By Chuck Allen

I wrote this on the clock

I’ve never been much for writing but Nelson Mandela once said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

I’m not so certain I have any of the ingredients that make up Madiba’s formidable combination, but I thought that in his honor I’d give it my absolute best.

I work with two other employees in a corporate library one of whom is my boss and the other my co-worker. I think that we, the two subordinates, are quite efficient workers. Sometimes I think we might even be good friends if we met somewhere else. The boss really isn’t half bad either except for finding some enjoyment in being a boss and unleashing their whimsical frustrations on we the minions. Occasionally showing up to bark at us about being on task or getting our work done (which of course we always do).

But how can I blame the boss? I know deep down under all that boss there is a middle-manager who has their own boss to deal with and would rather be somewhere enjoying life off the clock.

This is precisely why I decided to write this at work. As an act of defiance. An attempt to reclaim the hours lost each day to wage slavery.

I try to spend as much time as I can here living the rest of my life, whether that is planning my next adventure or trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for the dental treatment that my insurance won’t cover. Mostly though I spend my reclaimed time social networking or thinking about how much I miss kissing my partner. Occasionally, I glance over at my coworker trying to find a way to get their daughter into a good school or an apartment in a better neighborhood. Sometimes we talk about the things we have seen in life or the places we have been. I usually don’t bother.

I know we’re both dreaming about a life off the clock. Grasping for it through the monitors that we can sometimes feel shackled in front of. There are moments that you have almost forgotten where you are when the boss shows up to bark more orders and we find ourselves suddenly pulled back into the reality of working life. Often we end up on each others nerves because of the stress our condition places on us. Working does horrible things to the soul of a human.

I take solace in the fact that I know freedom is out there and that it can be achieved for all of us. We can get to that place where we can be with our mothers and partners. Where we can philosophize and garden. Where we no longer have to bear the burdensome  identity of “worker”. I hope that writing this on the clock can be a small beacon to all of you other toilers out there. Take back your time when you can! Maybe it can be used to hatch a plot to smash the last clock and we can reminisce about what life was like under capitalism.

For now I’ve got to get back to “work” before my boss discovers this subversive activity, but I know that days like this are numbered. We might be workers today but soon we’ll be free people, left to choose to do with our time what we desire.


I’ll see you all there on the other side. It’s going to be wonderful.

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