“There’s Jobs Out There”
By Richard Mabey Jr.
I live in a gated community in Central Florida. There is a certain perspective against poor people, which seems to run rampant in this community of which I live. Sadly, I am very ashamed of it. I’m sure you’ve all heard the rhetoric, “the problem with poor people is that they just don’t want to work.” Or, “there’s jobs out there, don’t tell me there aren’t jobs out there. I was at the grocery store the other day, they had a big sign out ‘Help Wanted.'”
The thing of it is, what the sign did not disclose was that every single job opening was only part time. There’s a new kind of part time job out there. It has many different names. One of its name is “variant hour part time job.” This means that the employee is not guaranteed 29 hours a week. One week they may work 29 hours, but the next week, they’ll only work 11 hours.
I don’t think that anyone, in their heart of hearts, grows up thinking, “golly, gee whiz, when I grow up, I wanna be on welfare. I wanna just be able to get by. I wanna be poor, so I can get food stamps. This way when I go to the grocery store, the couple behind me can get all pumped up and feel so self righteous. And, sometimes, when I pull out my food stamps, the people behind me will say, ‘this is where all my tax money is going to. See that Doris, the guy’s buying donuts with his food stamps.’ And, I can live in a government subsidized housing project where crime is soaring like a jet plane. Yup, that’s the life for me.”
What happened to America, is incredibly sad. As Merle Haggard sang to us all those years ago, “stop heading downhill like a snowball headed for h—.” I once worked for this huge, international telecommunications company. Right around 1994, “the suits” decided to do a huge downsizing. And I have to tell ya’ that the boys in the Ivy Tower, did one spectacular downsizing. Thousands of people lost their jobs in a short period of time. It was a sad situation.
After I left the big granddaddy phone company, I took on various jobs. At one time, I was working three jobs and still not making nearly the amount of dough that I was making at the old phone company. One of the jobs that I had was selling outdoor grills and patio furniture at a family owned home and garden store.
I worked there for about a year. As winter time came, we put the display grills in the back storage area and replaced them with artificial Christmas trees. It was a strange and uncanny thing, how many people that I had known at the phone company, came into that home and garden store during that year. All the stories were generally the same. They also had gotten downsized and were now struggling to get their lives back in order.
Getting laid off sets a person back. I know all the rhetoric. “There’s jobs out there.” “Put your mind to it and you’ll find a job.” And on and on. You’ve heard them all too. But here’s the thing in a nutshell. These granddaddy corporations lead you on to thinking that you’re safe in your job. They’ll call everyone in your division, into the auditorium and Mr. Big will stand in front of that podium and keep a straight face as he lies to everyone telling them all, that there will be no downsizing in his division. And then guess what? Only a month later after the big shot spouted off his speech filled with lies, the division begins a massive downsizing.
The big corporations specialize people, so that a person spends years and years learning about a specific aspect of a very specific portion of a specific field. For example, I worked in the International Public Relations Department of the Africas Region. For several years, I studied and studied specifics of African cultures. I took classes at the company’s own “university program.” I read many books on African cultures.
Then after my departure from this big granddaddy phone company, I went to several head hunters. Guess what? It was unanimous, having a vast knowledge of African cultures really wasn’t a great asset to finding another job. Gads! Didn’t see that one coming down the pike!
More and more, there is this terrible antagonistic feeling against poor people, by not just the rich but also the middle class. Here’s the thing in a nutshell, as a nation, are we losing our compassion to help the poor?
I look back when I was in the fifth grade, ten years old, back in the fall of 1963. My beloved Sunday School Teacher, Mr. Moore, taught us to have compassion for the poor. We used to do things like sell crafts that we made, so that the money could go into a special little fund to help the poor in our town. Oh, we would sell pot holders that we made, or hand painted vases, or paint by number paintings that we made. Well, you get the idea.
Mr. Moore didn’t tell us to be fed up with the poor. He didn’t tell us to turn our backs on the poor. He didn’t tell us to speak unkindly of the poor. He didn’t tell us to tell the lie that the poor are the reasons we’re paying high taxes. No, Mr. Moore taught us to care and help the poor.
Sometimes, I wish more politicians had the privilege to have someone like Mr. Moore to tell them to care for the poor. Bashing the poor is really not a cool thing to do. It really isn’t.