Do you remember that Rebecca Black video that went viral last year? (“It’s Friday! Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!”) While there were a lot of things that were truly annoying about that song (the way her “producers” turned the autotuner up to 11, for one) the part I found the most annoying was how a rich little teenage girl was singing about the fact that it was finally Friday. Because my first thought, when I hear any teenager talking about it finally being Friday, is “What do you care whether it’s Friday or not? You ain’t got no job.”
At least no job that requires any kind of celebration at the end of the week.
Yeah, I know: you go to school. And maybe you started working part-time at a local fast food joint. But school isn’t an obligation: it’s a reward for being lucky enough to have been born in a first world country. And those few hours a week you work at Sonic or McDonald’s—while clearly making a dent in the number of hours you spend cultivating your Netflix and Facebook habit—do not qualify you as a member of the proletariat. Not by a long shot.
I’m not saying that the whole “work” thing hasn’t been a shock to your system; I can clearly see that it has been—especially the part about how they expect you to show up every day, even when it’s nice outside. I’m just saying that perhaps finishing a four hour shift with a paper hat on your head is not quite the same thing as working swing shift in a coal mine.
Of course, it’s not even the physical part of a job that really entitles you to a celebration at the end of the week. No, the reason you TGIF isn’t because of how tired you are come Friday (although the prospect of sleeping in on a Saturday is always nice), but rather because of the mental aspect of working. And by that I don’t mean the thinking we need to do while at our jobs (to be honest, even when you’re an adult there are plenty of jobs at the “paper-hat” level of mental commitment), but instead having to think about the fact that we have a job at all—that we must work.
Because that really is the hardest about about having a job: the realization that, whether we are working our dream job or not (or even if our dream job has become a nightmare) working is still the only option we have left. That’s what makes us TGIF—what gives us the right to TGIF. And the cold, hard truth of the matter is that very few teenagers have reached that stage of working yet; most of them, whether they admit it or not, are still waiting for their “real” (and rich) parents, the King and Queen of Batavia, or whoever, to show up and rescue them. Or they think they are going to marry a rich husband and/or wife. Or (and this one is my favorite) they plan on becoming millionaires by the time they’re thirty by inventing something. No, they don’t know what yet, but it will be something really, really cool.
Sometimes, when I try to talk to teenagers about the reality of living in a world where work is a necessity they accuse me of trying to make the world seem like a dreadfully dark and hopeless place. I’m not, I always insist. I’m just trying to make you see how things really are. Which, now that I think about it, is probably a mistake: they have the rest of their lives to see how things really are. For now, I should probably just let them enjoy their dreams.
Even if that means listening to them go on about it being “Finally Friday!”