Putting on his blue overalls, Wang Yanbing became an unremarkable cashier at the exit of the shopping area of a self-service fresh food supermarket in Beijing. Now working as a cashier in this mall, most of the time you don’t need to bury your head in scanning codes and typing on price keyboards. Supermarkets are equipped with self-checkout machines, and cashiers only need to stand near the checkout machines to supervise customers' self-checkout and provide assistance to customers in need.
This is Wang Yanbing's new job after resigning naked from a big factory in 2022. Earlier, Wang Yanbing had to report to the office in Haidian District, Beijing on time every day. Take the elevator to the high-floor office, then tuck your legs under a desk, type your hands back and forth on the keyboard, and spend the day like this.
That job doesn't consume too much physical energy, and more often it only takes care of the brain. Worried about not being able to complete KPIs, afraid of being scolded by her boss for making business mistakes, and arguing with her colleagues, she would bury her head in various forms and reports, doubting the meaning of these pale documents.
When the internal friction became unbearable, she decided to escape and hide in a light physical work. So I became a cashier. She works in two shifts a day, regularly cleaning desks, hanging plastic bags, and changing printer paper are all her responsibilities. On the supermarket membership day, as the passenger flow becomes denser, she is also busier. She has been standing in the cashier area from 9 am to 10 pm, with only two hours of eating time in between.
This job consumes physical strength, but the advantage is that she doesn't need to deal with too many people. The work content is simple and clear, and each account has accurate figures.
The physical work made her head completely empty, and her heart was full of joy. At the end of each day, she feels some definite sense of accomplishment. So much so that she felt that the quality of sleep had improved, and her skin had become brighter than before.
More and more young white-collar workers are escaping from the cubicles and getting together to do physical work, hoping to feel some real life by rubbing their bodies.
The young man named Funny in English graduated from a 211 university in China. After quitting her job as a clerk in an office building in Wuxi, she started working part-time in different manual jobs. In March 2023, she started to wash cars part-time in a car wash shop, earning an average of 480 yuan a day, which was higher than the daily salary of working in an office before.
Lingering in physical labor, she doesn't have to think too much, she just thinks about cleaning the car. After a day, she is so tired that her back hurts, and she believes that after a night's rest, she will be able to regain her vigor and vitality. She believes that this kind of physical fatigue can be better relieved than the tiredness of office work. The tiredness in the office is accumulated in the heart a little bit and cannot be dissipated.
In November 2022, a group called "Light Physical Work Exploration Alliance" appeared on Douban. Over 30,000 team members were registered within a few months. Browsing these posts, you will find that there are many college graduates from 985 and 211 who are speaking members. Post, with the desire to restore the order of life.
In Fujian, a young man who called himself "Fries" quit his high-intensity job in an advertising agency and went to work in a community coffee shop. She mainly does some basic blending and catering work, toasting toast, pouring milk into the coffee liquid, and the work rhythm suddenly becomes slow. There is a big banyan tree outside the coffee shop. During her lunch break, she would have lunch with her colleagues at a wooden table under the shade of the tree. There would be tuna salad and sandwiches, and she could sleep peacefully for a while after eating.
There is a clear sense of boundaries between work and rest, and she will no longer receive indiscriminate bombardment from the boss in the work group, and the planning that once occupied her entire head has completely dissipated.
This seems to be the dream life of many office workers. But you must know that her plan is to go abroad for further study in the near future, and working in a coffee shop is just a temporary pastime.
Many of the young people who gathered to experience physical labor were not really ready to put their bodies to work. Most manual labor requires the practitioners to have qualified physical fitness, which tests the practitioners' tolerance for repetitive and rigid labor.
In January 2023, a college student in Sichuan who had not yet graduated shared a day as a sorter at a courier station. He got up at five in the morning, went to work at seven, and left work at seven in the afternoon. He worked 12 hours. During that time, he stood all the time, turning the express packages out one by one with the label side, making sure they were placed face up. Facing a mountain of packages, he repeated this action all day long. Lighter express delivery is okay, but when it comes to express delivery weighing more than 30 catties, it will be very laborious for him to turn it over.
At the end of the day's work, he became disheartened and declared that his waist was about to break, the work gloves used to protect his hands were also severely worn out, and his fingers were too tired to straighten. When he settled the wages after get off work, his hands couldn't stop shaking, and he took over the salary of 149.5 yuan. Before he went, he thought of taking this as a long-term part-time job, and never thought that he would be exhausted on the first day.
After being defeated, he fled back to the ivory tower shelter where he had struggled for more than ten years. In the end, he came to the conclusion that physical work is fine, but stay away from the delivery station, which is full of real manual work.
In the hot topic of taking root in doing physical work, many speakers portrayed doing physical work for a few days between work and school as a choice that is not afraid of career decline, claiming that this attempt can allow people to get in touch with life intimately. In fact, this is deceptive, ignoring the high-intensity effort of the body behind the so-called "physical work".
At the beginning of 2023, Connie resigned from a real estate company and reduced her monthly salary by more than 10,000 yuan to become a shopping guide for a clothing store. Daily work consists of several repetitive movements. Connie has to fold hundreds of pairs of trousers and run more than 10,000 steps in a space of more than 200 square meters during a day at work. Now she uses a set of standard speech skills to help customers choose goods every day, repeating the same words hundreds of times.
Physical work was no cure for Connie's internal friction. In this job, all actions are rigid and rigid, just like in her previous job, she had to write 4 different versions of a weekly report, which were handed over to Party B’s company, the company, the internal project and personal summary respectively. Both have a sense of meaningless repetition.
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