The Debt Slave: Do You Feel Trapped in Your Job?

wage slave

It’s 5:45 in the morning and your weekday alarm clock sounds, abruptly yanking you out of a peaceful and cozy slumber, AGAIN. How do you feel? Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? No? Perhaps groggy, but functional? Or do stress hormones start flooding your body before your feet even hit the floor? A concrete cloud of obligations, expectations and deadlines weighing you down during your hour long commute to your cubicle?

You’d like to take that alarm clock and smash it against your bedroom wall, pull the covers over yourself and quickly slip back under the surface of consciousness. But you can’t. You’d like to have control over your own time, but you can’t. You need that job. You live paycheck to paycheck. You have bills to pay and a standard of living to maintain.  (Wage slave). If you have debt, it’s even worse. The wage slave can downgrade lifestyle and change their job. A debt slave MUST.KEEP. WORKING. at the highest salary possible.

I can relate. This is my life right now.  I hate debt.  I HATE debt.


My workload ebbs and flows with production cycles.  A while ago I was facing burnout; pulling weekenders and all-nighters, taking forever to get basic work done, getting daily tension headaches, body-aches. I was eating asprin like candy. More crows feet and laugh lines greeted me in the mirror. I was so stressed, that I ended up doing something that I only did one time before in my life. One day I had to take a sick / mental health day off  from work. I was a wreck.

Fortunately, the workload lightened; sometimes by a lot, and the world was ok again. Unfortunately the crows feet and laugh lines didn’t lighten. Sigh.

Now, I’m squeezed between two very large, high profile projects with senior executives watching, and I’m dropping the ball. Co-workers are rushing in to do work that I should have had mostly done by now. Goodbye to any possibility of a salary raise.  I’m spending this weekend working to catch up and getting headaches again. Ugh.  I want off of this stress roller coaster, but the price of exit is too high. I must keep working at this job. I don’t want to paint my job poorly, most of the people are quite nice and good to work with. I’ve learned from personal experience that that is worth its weight in gold. I’m not in an abusive job (anymore), so I’m not looking to leave. There are things that I really like about my current job and I’m grateful to have it.


It’s just that debt reminds me that I have no choice. I’m not here because I want to be. I’m here because I have to be. I’m working, but not enjoying the benefit. Seeing others my own age and younger with their spouses, homes, cars and exotic travel destinations makes me feel like a failure.

They say that depression is born in the gap between where people want/expect to see themselves in life, and where they actually are in life. This is often the case when we magnify and give too much importance to our perceived failures. Maybe that’s what I have. Or maybe I’m just coming to grips with reality. Maybe the vestiges of my youthful optimism have been burned away.

If you have a lot of debt – deep debt – then you know what I’m talking about. When you look ahead, all you see is a long dark lonely road of debt slavery where you realize how trapped you are. You realize that, if you are fortunate enough to have a job, for the next X years of your life, you will work to make others richer. You realize that you will have no choice but to drag your tired body out of bed every morning, get in your car / on the bus and go to work when you’d rather do anything but. You are a debt slave.

At nearly 40, I’m renting a room and riding the bus to pay back debt. I’m putting off life experiences… I’m right back where I started in life. My standard of living will be lower than my mom’s was. At least she could afford her own apartment and car when raising my siblings and me.

I am accepting that this is where I am and trying to deal with it. I’m serving my time.

Enough of this. Time to catch up on my work.
Where’s my asprin?

What about you? Has your job gone to the dogs? What are you doing about it?

careerdog rwbayerscpa com

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

Are You Trapped in an Abusive Relationship with Your Job?


[photo credit: DeliriumBlue @ Flickr]

My posting has already started to drop off. Why? My 9 – 5 job has become shaky over the past couple of weeks. My love of this job that I’ve held for the past two years has taken a sharp decline over the past 6 months. The details of this are the subject of a separate post. Suffice it to say that I have begun to look at job boards. I really don’t want to have to go on the job market. I really, really, don’t want to have to go back on the job market. I was last on the market during the recession, and it was brutal. Even more than that, my debt keeps me shackled.

I’ve started to think about bad job fits like any other bad relationship. I’ve come to believe that the worst job relationships can be as emotionally abusive as any other relationship.

Are you in an abusive relationship with your job? See if any of these apply to you.

1. You are subject to regular criticism and judgement; from informal comments to formal reviews. Ever endured a 360 review? No? Look it up and consider yourself lucky. They can be things of terror.

2.  You have lost your self-confidence and self-esteem. You are now a shell of the person you used to be. You question every decision you make and second guess yourself constantly. This extends into your personal life.

3. You start to believe the critical comments made about you. You begin to think that you deserve the treatment you are receiving.

4. Your opinions and suggestions are not respected and are ignored.

5. You live under a myriad of rules; too many to keep track of. You fear doing anything at all because you might be breaking a rule somewhere, which would result in bad consequences.

6. You are watched.  The metaphorical panopticon lives. You feel as though you are always being observed. Your physical whereabouts and online communications are monitored.

7. You are bullied, insulted, or called names.

8. You must get permission to do anything.

9. All of your time must be occupied with it. Forget about spending time with family and friends. You’ve even started dreaming about work. You are made to feel guilty for wanting work-life balance.

10. You get an occasional gift, bonus, award to entice you to stay around a little longer.

Why don’t more people leave abusive jobs? The short answer is, for some of the same reasons many don’t leave an abusive marriage. A few reasons are:

  • 1. Lack of financial independence.
  • 2. Self-doubt and fear that there are no better options out there.
  • 3. Peer pressure or fear of losing the perks and high status that are now enjoyed.

If you feel that you are in an abusive job, start making plans to get out. Eliminate as much debt as possible and put some money aside in an emergency fund. Start looking for new work and be sure to ask more of the right questions, this time around.

As for me, I’m starting to think that my days at this job are numbered. If I last through the end of the year, I will be happy for the sake of my debt. In the meantime, I now have another part-time job of scanning the job boards to add on top of my other three jobs.


“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)