Free Essay on American Dream:
It is a well-known fact that the term “American Dream” first mentioned by James Trusslow Adams in 1931 (Wright 197) explains the model of an individual’s ideal existence, which is applied exclusively to the US – the country full of freedoms, possibilities, and opportunities. Nowadays the fame about the American dream reached all continents, and more and more people take the concept for granted dreaming about moving to America and spending the rest of their lives in a more favourable environment compared to their own. As many US citizens, they usually ignore the fact that hard work has always served as a background in the given concept (Warschauer) and look forward to gain all amenities of existence at once.
Now I would like to express my commitment to the idea of American dream and briefly describe my negative work experience. Some may think of this experience as of something providing a push toward the perspective future, some may not agree. In any case, this is our contemporary reality that forms our perceptions of what we pursue and what we would like to achieve.
Some years ago, I spent my summer vacations working as a sales assistant in a large food store that offered a full range of products. I was responsible for the department mostly with fresh and frozen meat. My duties included cutting, chopping, wrapping, and placing labels on the products, each specifying the product type. My uniform was pretty awkward: a green T-shirt and a white overall that probably resembled what the workers in the morgue wore. I had to work eight hours daily with occasional overtimes. On the weekends, I could have my days-off, however some of my colleagues worked non-stop. I suppose these people were using the opportunity to earn more – on weekends their wages were 1.5 times higher. At that moment, I suppose, they were closer than me to the accomplishment of the American dream.
The most annoying thing we had was the electronic checking system used to track the working hours. Each employee had a plastic card hanging on the neck. Punch-in and punch-out signalized the start and the end of the working day and defined the salary for each. This heatless device was taking into account only the hours of presence at the work place and didn’t embody any fair treatment for our efforts. I was also not sure, if anyone else on the higher positions has even evaluated our performance more precisely than with “positive” or “negative” marks.
If to talk more about the control at the work place, I would mention that my supervisors were always in charge of me when I stayed in the trade hall. And I had to stay there all the time expect when I had my lunch or smoked. In whole, the working days were passing at the same place. I was not allowed to lean my elbows on anything in the trade hall or stand apart, so if I was not busy with the customers, I had to clean the whole desk with the detergent. The job was extremely monotonous, so I was cheering myself up communicating with staff from my and neighboring departments. Our department had six employees: an African American, a Mexican who always used bad Spanish when talking, a guy from some Southern state, an untidy lady driving a cheap Korean car, and a strange elderly woman.
At some moment, our team joined a young guy from the Eastern Europe who said that he has been brought to the US by an exchange program for a couple of months to earn money. He did not look very satisfied with his duties and responsibilities, although he tried to stay cheerful and optimistic. After approximately a month, he just quit saying that such type of work did not coincide with his perceptions of a better-paid job. On the one hand, this could be viewed as a frustration in the American dream: a person expected to obtain a nice job with a good salary but worked with people from the lower social classes instead. However, he said he would like to come back to the US once and try again. As one can notice, the aspiration of the foreigners to become a part of the American community and prove that the American dream really exists is ineradicable.
Let me now refer this experience to the concept of American dream. A strong contributor to the development of societal norms in America is Barbara Ehrenreich, a contemporary American writer who aims at exposing the society by the means of personal interaction with the less successful categories of population (Jeffrey 411). The author has always been promoting positive attitude toward the position in society and opportunities associated with it. “So, you’re unhappy about your job; you have a right to be unhappy about that”, claims the author in an interview (Conniff 34). In her works, she emphasizes on the rents of society that seem to have strong effect in all aspects of life. She does not talk about the people who live happily because they represent the minority of the US citizens. She contributes to the American dream in the form of support to the working class that is usually a victim of social and economical processes. If native citizens experience difficulties in employment and struggle for the work benefits, then visitors and immigrants may probably have even worse situation within the given issue. Besides, the world economic crisis has negatively affected the employment rates in the country depriving many people in various industries from their work places. Many of them now are far more distant from the accomplishment of the American dream than they have been before.
But even in the times of stable economics in the country, the values of Americans are sometimes neglected, that’s why people have to transform their visions and adapt. According to Wright (199), the values of the people are not pure anymore for that there is certain confusion about them. People now try to fulfill their American dream artificially. Material belongings are viewed as indicators of achievement, that’s why people feel themselves accomplished after they gain them. Finally, they create the image of a cloudless future still being employed as blue-collar workers and continuously paying out the credits for what they have recently purchased. The foreigners have their own vision as well: they buy souvenirs with the American symbolics, make photos at the places of cultural heritage, and boast to their friends upon returning home. The brand of the United States is so powerful that millions of people feel they are ready to leave their homes for America and future perspectives as a consequence. Annually, they apply for the Green Card Lottery to have the possibility to stay and work in the USA legally (USA Green Card Lottery). Apparently, many of them will be disappointed after some time as well as the young man from the Eastern Europe has been.
Let me revert to my past job experience. I could judge the people around me according to my own situation. The work conditions and the salary were equal for anyone of us, the work benefits were not even worth mentioning – there were virtually none. I could say that I was not about to fulfill the American dream then, neither they were. After this job, I would say that thousands or even millions of people can live this way and will not probably make further steps to improve their social status. For some of them, it is rather affordable to live like this because such way of life does not involve any abrupt actions and intentions to change. It is well-known that people do not like changes and rather prefer to avoid them by all means. That’s why they blame government and society for what they have not achieved in life, while they do the same routine work at the same work place for the same salary. Barbara Ehrenreich has similar opinion, which is obvious on the basis of the interviews with blue-collar workers at the low-paid jobs. According to Cass (411), the writer has been experiencing different types of occupations throughout her own life in order to understand the perspective of the less successful individuals. As she found out, only relentless management and amount of salary could serve as the impulsive drivers to change the work place and the way of life. Primarily, she wants to communicate to us that positive attitude is a driver toward achievements. She says that success comes from “shaking off self-absorption and taking action in the world” (Enhrenreich). However, she does not provide the audience with many effective hints about how to increase personal wealth or achieve higher positions in the society. People choose their own way, and probably someone’s American dream does not reflect the position in the society or the wealth obtained.
From my own perspective, the job at the supermarket taught me that different people have different views on life, which are predetermined by their backgrounds, lifestyles, and personalities. The measures of happiness and satisfaction are distinct for each individual as well, although beliefs appear to be universal. When prompted by the belief, people don’t always trust the social opinion – they would rather test their assumptions on their own.
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