Main Street, Next Day

I feel ragged and depressed today.

As I type this my friend who got fired yesterday is cleaning out her office. All morning people have been dropping by to commiserate and pay respects. Everyone wants to keep in touch, everyone wishes her the best. She has dragged the industrial-sized trash can from the kitchen down the hall, and through it all she keeps tossing stuff into it. Once it is all gone, she will be gone, too. I can’t imagine how this place will work without her.

Main Street

Way back in time when the first person tried something that could not be accomplished by one person alone, he must have thought for a while, and then came up with the idea of getting a helper. Maybe they needed to take down a large animal so they would have something to eat. To get help with that project, he probably agreed to share the food. However it was arranged, it had to be understood that the goal could only be achieved through teamwork, that both sides — chief and assistant — were of equal importance in getting the job done.

Economic evolution led to more clearly defined roles between employer and employee, but I’m sure that for centuries in rural settings and small shops it was understood that the workers and the boss were doing essentially the same job, and if the farmer showed no respect for the hired hand he might not get his crops harvested before they rotted in the fields.

People being what they are — thoughtless, greedy and cruel — it eventually became necessary for workers to form unions, as a way to enforce the respect of Capital. Workers supported each other and the thinking was an injury to any of us is an injury to all of us. That era didn’t last long, and the funeral was held as Ronald Reagan busted the air traffic controllers union in the 1980’s.

Now we don’t stand up for each other. We let corporations make all the rules, and we meekly agree to them, and sign documents saying we agree to be on time, never do anything to harm the corporation, wear nice clothes, watch our language, go the extra mile, keep Company secrets and oh, by the way, we can be fired at any time with no notice, no severance, no reason and no recourse.

When the axe falls, the victim knows nothing about it until he sees his head rolling on the ground in front of him. Those who are spared, like me, express regret, but secretly breathe easier, knowing that we will get some unknown number of additional paychecks for some unknown number of future paydays.

This is what I’m doing today, standing in shit up to my neck, waiting for the boss to yell “Break’s over! Back on your knees!”

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4 Replies to “Main Street, Next Day”

  1. Add me to the chorus exclaiming that that sucks. At least they let her clean out her office and leave with some dignity, rather than frog-marching her to the door and supervising what she took from the office.

    The other thing about unions is that we “professional” people aren’t supposed to need them or even want them. (I wrote half a dissertation about this.)

    I’m really sorry you’re going to have to go to work without being able to see this person.

    And I suppose it’s nearly impossible for you to find another job in this crappy economy.

  2. Things suck in the real world. They aren’t even all that nice in my private phony world! Wish I could save everybody, as long as I didn’t have to save any republicans.

  3. I remember the last layoffs at my former company. They picked some people to escort out and some were left to leave on their own. Many had been with the company since its beginning in 1996. The managers who carried out the layoffs made the mistake of leaving the door open on the conference room after they were finished, and many of us heard them congratulating each other on what a good job they had done.

    If I’d had a gun that day I shudder to think what I might have done. Hang in there, baby.

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