March 5, 2012
You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
I can’t count how many times I’ve watched Joe Versus the Volcano while growing up because it’s one of my parents’ favorite movies. I’m not sure if my parents meant to, but I think they were conditioning us (me and my three brothers) to fear the cubicle life! However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t given it a try…
The most visited article on my blog right now is about Golden Handcuffs, so it excited me to know I’m not the only one who fears the cuffs. Just in case you missed it, golden handcuffs are the imaginary chains tying you to your job.
If you’ve seen Joe Versus the Volcano, you know how these are connected. If not, just watch the video and it won’t take you long to figure out! Just ignore the Chinese subtitles.
As I learned from Wikipedia, the original song was written in 1947 by Merle Travis; it continues with:
“According to Travis, the line from the chorus “another day older and deeper in debt” was a phrase often used by his father, a coal miner himself.This and the line “I owe my soul to the company store” is a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers which could be exchanged for only goods sold at the company store.”
To make it worse, workers usually lived in company-owned dorms or housing and the rent was automatically deducted from their pay!
The concept of the “company store” in today’s environment is more foreign because we get paid by our employers and we can do whatever we want with the proceeds. We don’t have to spend our money at the company store.
However, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to spend our money as we please, we find a way to create our own company store to sell our soul to! I did this when I went over $50,000 in debt. Maybe my employer should’ve sent my paycheck directly to the lenders!
The company store went away when unions forced an end to it. However, many of us are in the exact same position as the coal miners of the past. Our money is accounted for before we can even think about spending it, and we have to continue to work for the company so we can continue to pay our debts. We went from the company store being forced onto us, to us bringing it upon ourselves!
Isn’t it crazy that companies used to think they had to force us into enslavement?
We enslave ourselves to our jobs because we’re so far in debt that we can’t risk losing our income. It works out well for the company when we purchase all of our pretty things (cars, houses, boats, watches, clothes) with loans because it keeps us in bondage to our employer. I’m not saying companies are involved in an evil scheme to trick us into it – we do it ourselves!
When I paid off my debt, my job seemed way less important to me. Instead of wondering why I didn’t love my job, I was able to start thinking about other things I wanted to do with my life. It opened up my eyes beyond the company store.
The coal miner’s only option to separate from the company store was to quit their job. Luckily, we can take control of our money so we aren’t enslaved to our job. The next step should be to find work we actually like doing… easier said than done!
Are you purposefully selling your soul to the company store? If so, then it might be time for you to watch Joe Versus the Volcano!