(originally posted March 18th, 2014)
Dear Deep Sea Welders,
Recently, I read an open letter that Mackenzie Dawson, a “working mom”, wrote to Gwyneth Paltrow over Paltrow’s comments that mothering with regular jobs is “not like being on set.” Ms. Dawson’s article was critical and incisive, unrestrained by such trivialities as “knowing anything about the acting business” or “paying attention to anything beyond salaries and amenities.” She inspired me, and so now I too wish to address people whose career I know nothing about. And I want to call out you, Deep Sea Welders, and the myth you’ve cultivated that your job is “dangerous” and “more dangerous than being an unemployed writer.”
So, let me apply some unnecessary sarcasm here and say I really love hearing about all the water pressure you’re operating under and how dangerous it is if your welding suit breached or your oxygen line got cut and don’t find it tiresome and irritating to hear about at all. Oh, poor you. Yes, I’m sure you feel “isolated’ being that far underwater, unlike writers who have the most isolated job in the world.
Oh, you didn’t know? Writers have to read and write all the time, a process that generally requires solitude and no interruptions. It’s hell, thank you very much. Sometimes, writers have to deactivate their Facebook accounts or hide out in an alcove in order to do their job. Do you Deep Sea Welders have to worry about deactivating your Facebook accounts while you’re on your job? No? Then maybe check your privilege, because “Artists, Entertainers, and Writers” is Number Six on health.com’s 10 Careers with High Rates of Depression. And you know what job isn’t on that list? That’s right – You creeps.
You really think you deserve fifty-two grand a year for working in “dangerous conditions?” Hmmm, I guess so. That’s why I get paid thousands when I’m writing late at night and decide to get a snack at an all-night grocer. Yes sir, some guy is waiting to give me a huge check as I walk through a dark parking lot with a Ding Dong in my hand, somewhere that I could be robbed and killed. Oh, wait, that person doesn’t exist for me. And then I get home and type up a chapter and some guy calls in checking if I’m “alright” and if I’m “feeling okay” and if “the pressure is affecting me.” Oh, wait, I don’t have anybody like that. What’s more, my Facebook is deactivated, and so my best friend can’t instant message me links to bad metal band videos. Meanwhile, your Facebook account is open and you have someone checking up on you. But you’re the disadvantaged one. Ha. Okay.
When a welding inspector goes over your work, all they say is, “Didn’t pass, needs a do-over.” I’m sure that’s the exact same thing as when a workshop partner tears into my short story, really, the exact same. I have to dig through five-hundred word reviews full of, “Your character isn’t likeable,” and, “I don’t get this transition,” and, “This sophomoric humor doesn’t jive with the formal tone of the rest of the piece.” Sometimes, I even get a reviewer in a bad mood who jots down, “Frankly, this story blows, and I expect more from you.” Does an inspector ever tell you your work “blows,” Welders? No? Then sit down and shut up.
Even better though, ha, even better, is that when you tell people that you’re an Undersea Welder, people’s eyes widen and they start asking you questions about it and saying you’re so brave, ugh, ugh, ugh. Do you know what people tell writers when they confess to what their job is? “Holy cow, man, get a real job.” You will never get treated like that, so maybe bow your head in shame when a writer comes your way, because you don’t have clue one about our misery, our trials, our real and true pain.
I mean, who do you think you are? Someone whose job is hard? You get paid for it though. And we all know that more money erases all fears and has no added responsibilities or hardships or anything like that. Life’s a breeze for the rich, which is why they never go bankrupt, never need financial advisors, never have a failed investment, and never have to work to maintain their money. We know all this, just like we know that there’s nothing more disprivileged than an unemployed writer, just like we know that nothing is harder than being an office mom. An office mom is the worst, worse than homelessness, worse than menial labor, worse than living in a warzone.
We also know about the complete fabrications and lies foisted upon us by elites like Paltrow, who is a “clueless twit” and “idiot” and someone who “should be quiet” according to commenters on the NY Post’s website. We know that there’s no such thing as “everyone having a cross to bear.” We know about the fallacies of “empathy” and “accounting for what you don’t know,” and what absolute hogwash they are. We know that it’s not okay for people like Paltrow to admit her job is hard, and it’s perfectly okay for Ms. Dawson to denigrate what Paltrow does. After all, look at the letter’s final sentences: “Luckily, those 9-to-5 ‘ordinary job’ hours grow on trees here. And if you lose one, all you have to do is find another.” Amen, sister. We all know that Hollywood isn’t a cutthroat business, and we all know that Paltrow will never lose work for “not being pretty enough,” a firing excuse that Ms. Dawson could sue over while Paltrow can’t. We all know that the actress life is a perfect dream, and how dare she say otherwise? Shut up and be in our movies because we don’t care about what hardships you bring up, Gwyneth, because we here in the real world deal with real problems that we get to freely talk about without people writing open letters to the NY Post.
And hopefully after my open letter, the public will be “on to you,” Deep Sea Welders. They’ll realize how “whiny” you are, how “really stupid” you are, how “absurd” you are, to pull language from the NY Post commenters again. You see, you can only aspire to my hardships, Welders. Get educated. Stop thinking only about yourself and start meditating on what I have to go through, on my psychodrama. Just a helpful tip.