Thursday, August 05, 2010

...and things fall apart.

I sit in my studio, a real barn burner of a storm is kicking up...the thunder rolls across the sky like a herd of buffalo, or a sharp crackle sounding like wood splintering or cloth tearing.. the rain falls, sounding gentle but probably coming down in drops that a 3/8" across...It is late...I should make some dinner and feed Claire, my cat.
However before I pursue closing my life down for a night I think to myself...what the HELL is going on around me?
Let me explain...I've been unemployed now for a month longer then 2 years. I spent my life learning a trade, being the go to guy, being the guy who knew the most and could build anything that was designed that didn't defy the laws of physics. It took 25 years but now I am that guy...I should be teaching the next generation how to do some of this stuff...I should be running some poor schmucks shop while he goes out and sells. I should be starting to think about my retirement...Yeah right.
The state unemployment office (which is about the finest example of confusion in bureaucracy you can even begin to imagine...NO body Knows whats going on from one minute to the next) had assured me at the end of June that I had nothing to worry about as far as my unemployment was concerned... So much so they called me in to show me how they wanted me to keep my records of my job searches from now on. I'm supposed to have had three places I sought work from. I spent an hour writing down the actual web address of Craigslist, for both the major areas around, the large newspaper in the area, and of course their own job search page...and when I gave a sweeping Monday through Friday set of dates they wanted to know SPECIFICALLY when I looked for work at these places. ("that is the specific dates, I go to these places and look every day...") and when I was done they assured me that despite the anniversary I had nothing to worry about...Two weeks later I found out cause I was curious as to whether I should use the number I was issued or my SS# for my future calls in to assure them I had been looking for work and wasn't getting any other money from anyplace else...I was informed that my benefits were exhausted....BUT you SAID...Yeah well, its over. BUT I ASKED....! Yeah sorry we misled you...
SO... I've been going nuts trying to find a job. From hammer handles, to closets, from millwork to caskets, if its made out of wood in a 30 mile radius from home, I have spoken to them...and nobody, nobody, nobody is hiring...except three places.

I had three interviews...two were with temp services acting as a go between for manufacturers...the third was for the biggest cabinet shop on the east coast: the first temp office was for a job running a panel saw...I have run panel fact the last moron I worked for bought one because of my advice and I assembled it without a set of plans...they wanted to pay me $11 an hour,(w no benefits)for 6 months, starting at 6:30 am...with a mandatory amount of overtime. The job was 1 1/2 hours away if the traffic was with me. I would have had to gotten on the road between 4:30 and 4:45 to get there on time...I had have to give up my teaching job cause I couldn't get home from greensboro one night a week at 10:30 and plan on getting up 5 1/2 hours later to go to work. I had to turn it down...
the next was the big cabinet shop...They wanted me to run an edge bander...not a problem, haven't worked with one in 20 years, but I know how to use one...SAME thing, mandatory over time 12 hours 4 days a week, 10 hours the 5th, and half a day the 6th...I told them fine, as long as I was out of there on monday's by 6 pm...the only day...I teach, I gave my word I'd do this, we're into the class about half way. they told me they'd be in contact...still haven't heard from them. doubt I will. the third was a company 45 minutes due south...I called them, they told me that they had absolutely NO plans to hire any body permanent for quite a while, but they were using a temp service. Spoke to them their office is over an hour due west. I went for the interview. This job was for $9 an hour ( I was making $9 an hour as an apprentice almost 25 years ago) with a mandatory 9 to 24 hours of overtime-with the idea being that if you held out there would be a permanent job with benefits at the end of it...what she didn't know was that I had spoken to the human relations of this same business and was told that pigs would fly first. When I mentioned the class I teach, the woman took all the forms I'd spent half an hour filling out and dropped them in the trash saying she was sorry that I drove all that way for nothing.

What in the hell happened to this country? We fought labor wars in the last century to keep this sorta crap from happening. A guaranteed 40 hour work week, voluntary overtime. This was YOUR job, they didn't own you. The rich that got this country in the situation that its in now will only hire you back if your willing to sleep on a cot next to your work station or damn near. We have 10% unemployment but they want to work the lucky few damn near to death to save a few bucks on benefits? I'm a human being. I have honed my skills and can build anything that can be designed...I built stuff that my EMPLOYER designed but had no concept how to build...and they want to chain me to a machine for little more then gas money to get me to work so that they can work me for 65 hours a week...I get Sunday off? That is a concession I'm sure will change in time...for WHAT? What about my life? What about the pursuit of happiness guaranteed me in the hallowed Declaration of Independence and Constitution? I have worked all my life, I have done good work, I have not stolen from my employer nor cheated one. I have spent my life learning to be the best at what I do, cause ya know what? That's what AMERICANS do....we are not a slave state, we don't sell our souls for the privilege of spending our lives serving technology and somebody that has more then he can spend. My Grandfather, a card carrying member of a union is turning in his grave right now...people were hurt and some died to assure the world that the American worker was not a slave, that he did his job the best he knew how to do and had time for his family, his community, himself....What the HELL happened to this country?