Author: Jouni Tossavainen

The joy of work

24 October 2011 | Fiction, Prose

Short prose from Sivullisia (‘Outsiders’, Like, 2011). Introduction by Teppo Kulmala

Since I’ve been unemployed, I started a blog called Outsiders. It soon came to serve as work, and I became dependent on its benefits. Although describing being an outsider helped to anaesthetise me, and verbalising all of my afternoons didn’t even take up all my time, the feedback that came in was reward enough. I wouldn’t have taken any other reimbursement anyway because of the restrictions set on recipients of government benefits. Increasingly frequently I found myself longing for more. Even a short blog comment about being an outsider felt even truer than what I with my self-employed, jobless person’s competence was able to achieve in relation to being sidelined as an unemployed person, regardless of what kind of manager I had been in my previous life. When asking for more accounts of other people’s well-being, I wanted them to use their own names. I justified this because I did not want to read lies, which often come from and lead to chatter in cafés and on the web. Apart from the pure enjoyment of being present, using one’s own name – even in wrong-headed topics or notions – makes it easier to approach the harsh laws of the working world. When one knows that by using one’s own signature one is dragging one’s family into the mire, including those who have gone before and those yet to come, one is able to blaze trails along which one can outflank the passive to activate another, equally unemployed. I did not place any further requirements on the other commenters besides first name and surname, as the rules had been drawn up by professionals in their own field. The regulator’s work also requires skill, if not a tremendous craving, for damming up another flood of text so that one’s own advantages do not have a chance to dry up. To facilitate reading for myself and others, I introduced only a couple of restrictions, which I imagined that I, too, would be able to adhere to. Only one side of a sheet of A4 was to be used – that is, one page – and what people wrote had to be true. Truth, beauty and quality ensured that everyone would begin what they had to say by writing about their current work. More stories, anecdotes, even poems piled up than the law permits me to read – much less compile – during working hours. For this book I have selected only 157 stories from the Greater Helsinki area for the sake of efficiency. The faster you can read the work, the less time it will distract you from your main job. I chose to limit things to the capital area so that the stories about well-being from individuals linked to this place would seem to form a more integral work, or document at least, about what was happening in the Big H, the centre of the nation, at the start of the millennium. I will publish the tales of work from beyond the outer ring road at some later stage, if I manage to come to an agreement with the writers concerning intellectual property rights. More…