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Let’s take it slow

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Vintage engraving of police and military breaking up a railway strike in Motherwell, Scotland, in the 19th century.

Vintage engraving of Police and military breaking up a Railway strike, Motherwell, Scotland, Victorian, 19th Century. Getty Images

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Sometimes it can feel like our jobs are in control: in control of our bodies, our mood and our pace. So how can we take back control when the job gets too demanding?

For Adam, that point came last year during a shift at work as a bank manager in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After a hectic 2020 — a year that included a massive storm, staffing issues, and oh, you know, a pandemic — the weight of Adam’s job had begun to feel like more than he could handle. 

After an anxiety attack left him shaken one day, Adam told us he started to realize “what is happening when I’m at work isn’t OK.” 

He started to think about how the pace of his job had become unrealistic. “It’s not really my fault as the employee if they’re having me do so many things that there’s just not enough time in the day to do it all,” he said when we spoke with earlier in the spring.

We’re only using Adam’s first name to preserve his future job prospects, but his desire to slow down was nothing new.

Hosted by Reema Khrais
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“As long as there have been workers, there’ve been workers who resisted the speed up, workers who slowed down on the job,” said Toby Higbie, a labor studies professor at UCLA. 

This week, we’ll learn a little more about the history of “slowdown strikes” and the small ways workers can take back control of their time.

If you liked this episode, share it with a friend. And to get even more Uncomfortable, subscribe to our newsletter. Each Friday you’ll get a note from Reema Khrais and some recs from the Uncomfortable team. If you missed it, here’s the latest issue.

If you want to tell us what you thought about the episode, or anything else, email us at uncomfortable@marketplace.org or fill out the form below.

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