It was by playing the PC game Richard Scarry’s How Things Work in Busytown in the nineties, as a child, that I learned about the fulfillment of labor. Visually enraptured by the images on my father’s desktop computer, I recklessly internalized capitalist logics.

For example, labor must be witnessed for it to count. For example, labor is activity. For example, labor simultaneously serves industrial and emotional needs.

In Busytown, labor is constantly at work and play: Busytown is a utopia of happy workers. Immediately I wanted to become a worker, one of them. The idea was so appealing. I saw how much fun millers and trash collectors and doctors had in their own essentialized ways and how these economies nevertheless supported one another.

That was the seductive appeal of becoming a worker: collective participation in joy.

The happiest workers were, I thought, the tiny green anthropomorphic bugs who showed up in the bakery, at the road construction site, in the factories. They performed boring, necessary tasks. They had unreal squeaky voices. Though basically interns, they also signalled the quality of your work, and this is how, over time, I discovered that while being a good worker was fun being bad at working was always more fun—and what’s the point of working if it’s not for fun?

Catherine Chen is an agitated writer-worker in Boston and on Twitter @aluutte.