27 July 2011

Looking for 'someone who's close to the action' my right toe! They're looking for someone who doesn't rock the boat:


I remember thinking back in 2006-2009 as I watched 'them' terminate employments that 'they' were in the process of eliminating the 'troublemakers', a weeding out of the aging, the difficult, the office activist types who had morals, values, and principals that didn't include violating just about every single code of common decency there is. I remember frantically trying to get my mortgage paid off, the house renovations finished, the garden producing, and the pantry stocked before they came for me-I knew they would sooner or later because in the end, I am a troublesome employee to the corporate Human Resources people.

I was a team player, I did 'play ball', but not to the extent of crossing that line-I never became ruthless, I never went corporate; I never lied, cheated, or back-stabbed. Credit to the team member to whom it was genuinely due even when it was someone we all heartily disliked, and I expected it back from the others. All the while I knew things 'out there' were so bad that my coworkers would throw me to the wolves, under the bus, etc, and oh yes, they did. People were so desperate to keep their jobs that I have some unpleasant suspicions about the acts some were willing to commit.

And when I politely refused to go along to the pub/lake-side BBQ/ride on the boss's yacht, I knew my days were numbered.

And I knew that because things were so bad out there, and because I was over 50 (53 when I lost my job), and because I don't play bulls*it games, I knew I was in for a very rocky ride.

And of course it was a very rocky ride both before and after losing my job. Finally, on 28 September 2009 I joined the ranks of the unemployed. I mechanically went about the things I needed to do-cancelled the cable and Internet, put out the word I was looking and would do odd-jobs ("Say, I can fix that wall your husband punched, trade me...") in barter or for cash. Thank-God I knew how to sink a wall anchor, patch a wall, replace a light switch; thank-God I knew how to sew, crochet, and garden and hunt and clean game-all my very valuable skills put to barter and personal use to save the cash I'd managed to stash. But it was a very rough time, those three months of unemployment I went through. I never really got another job, either, not the sort I was looking for-one I could stay in for years until I was finally ready to stay home all day becoming the cat lady-neighbourhood grannie.

So. Two years later the New York Times is publishing a piece on how hard it is to find a job when you haven't got one and how that is cutting millions out of potential employment. I like the Times, I've been reading it for decades. LA and NYT, the two best newspapers on the rack, back in the day, with the Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe thrown in if there was enough spare change on the dashboard.

But the Times missed the most important reason the well-qualified-yet-currently-unemployed are being eliminated from the CV (resume) queue-they were 'let go' from their last positions because they were undesirable for reasons sometimes so subtle the newly unemployed were utterly clueless as to what the hell had just happened.

I watched my now former employers 'let-go' a woman who'd used her horribly expensive company health plan to beat the first round of breast cancer.

I watched my now former employers 'let-go' several of us women past the age of 45-many of us scant years from being vested, so we missed out on our pensions.

I watched my now former employers...well, name the typical corporate dastardly anti-employee deed, and for over four years I watched those bastards commit it. Speaking up never did any good and trying to see it from the company point of view was incredibly stupid now that I think about it. To read the NYT saying that the reason those of us who are unemployed for over nine months are likely never going to find a job because we 'are out of the loop' is insulting, too easy, and at best naive.

We lost our jobs because we were troublemakers of one sort or another, and that is all there is to it. We were troublemakers in the corporate eye-we had to go because we used our insurance, might use our insurance, and/or wouldn't play the corporate games to the extent of selling our souls to the devil to keep up our house/car/credit card payments. Since I didn't have a mortgage, car payment, or credit cards, I was suspect; because I was getting older and would presumably soon begin to use my health insurance, I was a potential drain on their bottom line; because I wouldn't lie, cheat, or otherwise back-stab my coworkers, I wasn't really a team player, now was I?

I'm not an unusual case, I watched my now former employers get rid of everyone like me.

Our unemployment is the secret signal to potential new employers that we are the troublemakers who have been weeding out for them. We are unemployable now because when we lost our jobs we were unemployable to the corporations that insisted we permit them to own us by our refusal to be owned.

We've been disenfranchised because we refused to be enfranchised by a system that insists on making people into non-people. We're screwed, frankly, and the potential employers would like us to go off and quietly die, thank-you very much.

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