Left to Our Own Devices

"The Digital Hustle When we met in the middle of a rare snowstorm in Washington, DC, in January, Charlie was bundled up against the cold in his Carhartt jacket, thick socks, and sturdy work boots, with a knit cap pulled down over his ears. As he peeled off his many layers in our booth at a Dunkin' Donuts, he apologized for smelling like cigarette smoke, saying that bad winter weather always makes him think a little harder about quitting for good. Charlie explained that smoking was a small comfort in what he felt were uncertain times. "It's like, every day you just you walk out your door and you're already stressed. Because we never know, even these days, you never know what the next day is going to be like. You have no idea. I'm just trying to keep my guys busy." Charlie's "guys" are a small crew of two or three manual workers he tried to keep in regular work through a patchwork of contracting, demolition gigs, and moving jobs. Looking older than his forty-seven years, Charlie told me about how he came to start his own home contracting and moving business after he left his union construction job when his boss was replaced by someone much younger than him. He enjoyed the freedom and independence that came with "being his own boss": being my own boss, I don't have to deal with nobody. And for me, because I'm forty-seven, I can't deal with a twenty- or thirty-year-old, some young kid like you being my boss."--

Download Now

Publisher Oxford University Press
Release Date
ISBN 019069128X
Pages 193 pages
Rating 4/5 (88 users)