A woman comes up to a man in a bar and says: “Would you sleep with me for a million pounds?”
The man appraises her briefly and says, “Yeah, I guess.”
In response the woman sits down and asks, “Would you sleep with me for a pound?”
The man snorts into his drink and says, “What do you take me for?”
The woman responds, “Well, we’ve already established you’re a whore, now we’re just haggling over the price.”
This story is usually attributed the other way around – with Churchill the protagonist – it’s the woman who’s the whore (of course) and the man who calls the shots.
What if we capitalised the man? What if, rather than this being a negotiation between 2 apparently consenting adults, this were a contract between us and the Man?
The conversation would probably go something like this:
The Man sidles up and says: “Would you give up a few hours extra sleep for more money or better career prospects?”
Unsuspecting punter replies, “Er, yeah. I guess.”
The Man settles down and continues: “Would you give up all possibility of a family and loved ones for more money or better career prospects?”
Unsuspecting punter reels back. “Hang on a minute, what kind of person do you think I am?”
The Man smiles and says: “We’ve already established you’ll put your career and earnings before your personal needs, now we’re just establishing your limits.”
How much have you sold yourself for? And how much more is there to auction off?
There are a lot of books, research, thinktanks and far more intelligent people than I exploring a Theology of Work. How much time should we be devoting to work? What work is worthy? What kind of renumeration system is fair?
When it comes down to it, though, it shouldn’t be merely theology that stops us from selling ourselves short.