Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Don’t Sell Your Soul to the Company Store

Sell your services to the company store, but not your soul. In company towns, there was always a company store selling goods at high prices and always willing to extend credit to get you more deply mired in their debt. In our service-oriented world, the company store takes on a different, more psychological character of servitude.

A friend who just started a new job told me today she thinks constantly of her work...when she wakes up at night and during her hourly commute each way to her job. These thoughts are a giant python squeezing out her personal creative projects. she's begun to see her creative life as indefinitely on hold, or at least until she can get enough money ahead that she can become creatively independent once more.

We spoke of ways to break this all or nothing cycle which sounds so familiar to many of us, no? She's started to sell her soul to the company store. But, they did not contract for her soul--only her professional services.

Save some of that juice for yourself, honey, and for the work that only you can do...on your own time and from your own storehouse.

[Cultural note: "In the 1960’s Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded a country ballad, Sixteen Tons,that stayed number one on the pop and country charts for months. It captured the almost forgotten plight of the company owned miner: You haul sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don’t you call me for I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store." (C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor,1998).]

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  1. I meant to comment on this earlier. Selling your soul is insidious. Despite concentrated attempts to shut out my professional life at 5:00 pm, I found myself thinking constantly about my social service clients, in the evening while I was in the garden and doing chores, at night in dreams, and especially on Sunday evening as I frantically ran about trying to finish all my weekend projects and summon up the energy to contemplate Monday. No amount of meditation or social distractions could get rid of this constant cloud hanging over my personal time.
    The worst was when I went to a party and someone would recognize me as their friend/neighbor/ relative's social worker and start talking to me about issues pertaining to their case, or the program in general. "I can't discuss this with you now. Call me Monday," did not often deter them.
    Just about as bad was in the grocery store or at Wal Mart I would see clients who swore at the home visit that they were wheelchair bound and couldn't walk a step, but were walking around unassisted. Or even worse, seeing these same people at music events, dancing!
    I am so thankful to be retired and finally to have possession of my own soul!!

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