Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's not the Age, its the Mileage

Back in 1981, the Bangles released a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade of Winter. A memorable lyric is “time, time, time, see what’s become of me.” The song reminds us of our life changing and the passage of time: “seasons change with their scenery, weaving time in a tapestry;” “time, time, time . . ..” Also in 1981, the intrepid Indiana Jones brought context to aging. He noted “it’s not the age, honey, it’s the mileage.” We are all moving inexorably forward, aging every day. 

A very interesting story caught my eye on November 18, 2015, regarding a woman in Shenzhen City in Guangdong, China (just north of Hong Kong). I was drawn by the headline, "Overtime made me an Old Lady," and the link lead to Rocketnews ("Bringing you yesterday's news from Japan and Asia, today").

The 25 year-old pictured below was photographed on the streets with a sign that reportedly (I cannot read Chinese) said “overnight and overtime work has made me into an old lady. Both my love and work lives are miserable. I request approval for workers’ compensation.” One of my first thought when I saw this is whether such a sign would satisfy the filing requirement of Fla. Stat. 440.192 (the Florida petition for benefits statute)? Here, the law requires specific information in a particular format to claim workers' compensation. Would a sign suffice in China? But I digress, back to the story.

The story on Rocketnews said this “was an unusual yet straightforward demand that triggered debate and reflection on the state of working conditions in” China. The young woman reportedly “claims that working long hours and sometimes going without sleep have taken a toll on her physically. She says that this has led to rapid aging which she compares to a work related injury.” Would this be a repetitive trauma injury? After all, Phil McGraw reportedly once said "life is a contact sport."

This young lady is likely out of luck in China. Rocketnews apparently discussed this with Chinese attorneys, and the consensus seems to be that “her claims would not be covered in workers’ compensation.” But, they note that “her actions are indicative of an increasing awareness of workers’ rights in Chinese society.” 

As I write this post at 4:30 in the morning, focusing on the workday before me, I am wondering . . .. Nah, I guess the odds are probably not really any better for me making a compensable claim for this here. Though I sometimes feel worn-out from long hours, no one is making me. The state just expects judges to work 40 hours a week, and that is generally in the 9:00-5:00 world of daylight. 

Rocketnews reported that there were many comments in online discussions regarding her protest. They say that “comments range from support to derision.” In an indictment of the "world-wide" nature of the "world-wide-web," my several Google searches here in the U.S. did not yield any social media hits for this protester, or the comments reported by Rocketnews. But the issue there is likely that I am too "seasoned" to intuitively know (or not smart enough to figure out) how to access Chinese social media. In all likelihood, someone younger (or at least smarter) out there could probably find that material easily (if you do, email me the links and I will update this post). 

In a bit of a backhand at America, the Rocketnews author laments it is “too bad she (this protesting young lady) doesn’t live in the USA where the lawyer ecosystem is much lusher.” Ecosystem? American lawyers have an ecosystem? You can learn a great deal reading the Internet, either about the way things are or at least the way things are perceived. But, the article also notes that even in America, the case would be “tough though,” concluding that in the pictures she does not “look so old,” but merely tired and angry.

Don't sugar-coat it folks, do I ever look tired and angry? I hope not! If I, or someone else you know, do sometime, please remember “it’s not the age, it’s the mileage," and remind us to relax and smile. You never know what kind of a bad day someone might be having and a kind word often works wonders. 

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season. In the spirit of this Chinese protest, I will be working some half-days this week. I hope you also get some rest and relaxation!

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