Why We Work

Labor Day 2006: Our Salute to Great Jobs

Those with a none-too-joyous view of humanity (and, yes, that would be the GOP) view work—view labor—as something man will only do for the most money possible. (Except when it's time to raise the minimum wage.) If you don't let Rick Hilton pass all his worth on to Paris Hilton tax-free, they say, there's no reason for him to aspire to more. Status, respect, self-fulfillment, creation: these are as nothing to the Republican mind.

And that's why I think Republicans are lazy pieces of shit: you totally have to bribe them to get anything done at all.

The rest of us, we work and work and work and work. We work weeks longer than our European competitors while they're laughing into their Brie. Our real wages are at their lowest since 1972, while we thank our benevolent employers—the ones taking home record profits—for not yet having outsourced our jobs.

Van Es
Van Es

Work is awesome, and I would like some more money, please, or I ain't doing any.

But wait!

Some work is awesome! Some work is the kind of work you would even do for the love of the game instead of for enough money to buy some love. There are even the mythical grails of jobs, the kinds where you don't need money to buy love; "love" comes right with the uniform. I'm talking, of course, about jobs that don't exist but should: jobs like bikini inspector, and mustache ride operator, and Orange County sheriff.

We can't profile what doesn't exist—that's for George Tenet and the WMDs—but we can offer you profiles of people who love what they do, or we assume they would if we talked to them. There's a pilot, and a guy who drives Lamborghinis. There's an aerial acrobat, and Hugh Hewitt, and Don Bren. There's a day laborer and Rex Hudler. There are others that may or may not be cut for space by the time we roll this paper out the door and head out for our eight-day holiday weekend. We've got some pretty good jobs here ourselves.

And we'd still like more money. You know: please.

"You're fine on this curve," Lamborghini Orange County service manager Grant Johnson says as we fly down Edinger in a black 2005 Lamborghini Gallardo, not a car in front of us, me in third gear nearing the ton. "It can handle it." He should know; this is his job, and he does it well. Not a hair moves in his dry pompadour as I futz around with a $300,000 car I don't own. ("Do you have life insurance?" general manager Vik Keuylian asked me as we left the building. I'm not sure if he thinks we might crash—or if he'll take care of me if we do.)

This is what his day feels like: it feels fast, even though I'm just sitting around. The exhaust note behind me is an unearthly howl, and I'm only loafing: halfway to redline on the tachometer, halfway through the transmission, which is shifted through paddle levers that sprout from the steering column just like on a Formula One car. Johnson, who took us sideways through a turn just moments ago—the hard downshifts kicking us in the tuchis, the massive Brembos on each corner just starting to lock—must be unruffled, but I don't know. I'm not looking at him; I'm doing what you have to do in situations like these. I'm watching the road, which, like the gasoline in this beast, is disappearing at an alarming rate.

Like all Lamborghinis, this is not a car you drive to get somewhere. You drive it because you've arrived—somewhere—and now you wanna leave, real fast. Sometimes, as Flannery O'Connor once put it, "where you are isn't any good unless you can get away from it." You can do that, but quick, in anything Lamborghini makes, and everyone I meet at this dealership has the happy, floaty air of someone on an adrenalin rush: someone who, like me, has either just driven one of these Italian exotics or is about to.

"I own everybody's Lamborghini," Johnson brags as we ooze down the dealership driveway in the Gallardo—the first all-new Lambo the company has dropped since being bought by Audi in '98. "We just got back from a driving trip up north. We went up Highway 1, doing maybe 100 miles a day on those twisty roads. Passing people, we were doing 100 miles an hour in some of those turns." Jealous?

He's had this job for nine years; like everyone here, he's been hooked on exotics in general/Lamborghinis in particular since around the time the Countach—its road-going missile of the 1980s—came out.

"It's a job," Johnson says wanly as we get ready to blast down Edinger, stopping only for the railroad tracks, then reconsiders his position: getting a tan in the driver's seat of one of the fastest cars in the world. "It's one of those jobs," he says, "where you get up every morning and you want to come to work."

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