Why We Work, Featuring Ben Rascoff
Why do I work? Four simple words that subjected me to hours of introspection. The easy part was recounting the variety of jobs I’ve been fortunate to have. The first job I can recall (if you can really call it a “job”) was picking up pinecones in the yard while my dad raked. “A penny a pinecone,” he’d say. I thought that was a pretty fair deal and was very happy accepting my two dollars or so after clearing the front and back yards. Then there was the paper route I did for a few years with my buddy, back when kids delivering papers was still a thing in Spokane. That was quite a lesson in discipline as we quickly learned that no matter how hard we tried, 4:45 a.m. arrived every day (rain or shine!) along with large stacks of newspapers that needed to be folded and delivered. When I turned 16, I immediately sought part-time employment and landed a job bagging groceries at the Rosauers on 14th and Lincoln. Over the years I’ve also worked at a number of restaurants washing dishes, bussing tables, serving, and tending bar. I’ve been a telemarketer (briefly!), worked at a local newspaper, been the guy that places flyers on your front door, and currently work as an attorney. Looking back, “work” has been one of the most consistent things in my life. So … why is it that I work?
My knee-jerk response to the question is “money”, and I suspect that is most people’s immediate response. However, the pennies I earned with pine cones or paper delivery weren’t necessary to my survival; they instead marked the beginning lessons of independence, pride in a job well done, and the development of my character to acquire the discipline in doing what needs to be done and achieving self-satisfaction and self-sufficiency. These traits exist not just weekdays between 9:00 to 5:00, but in all aspects of my life. I am certain that, upon reflection, the vast majority of us would agree that we receive more from our “work” than just money.
People involved in soliciting and collecting charitable donations know that one of the motivating factors for a donor is the positive feelings that the donor experiences when they give a gift, be it a gift of their time or money. In other words, people give not only to help the people and causes they believe in, but because it also makes them feel good. Humans, for better or worse, are inherently self-interested creatures. I am no different.
Why do I work? Well, I certainly work to provide money for myself and my family. I also work to genuinely help people and provide value to the world where I can. But, I admit it. I also work because it makes me feel good. Work allows me to feel like I contribute something to my community. It gives me a sense of independence and accomplishment, and feelings of skill and pride. I am not only giving by working, but I am taking something from it as well; “work” is important for my wellbeing.