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The Job Police

November 6, 2010

Somebody told you that this was a free country; I wonder who? Parents and school teachers have been known to pass along such unsubstantiated rumors as this with information gleaned from second hand sources for generations; mere fables to warm the hearts of schoolchildren and to reinforce to the humbly interfaced that you are siding with the good guys; that when we kill, we kill only bad guys and when we transfer forty percent of our industrial base to third world economies it is only to reinforce your freedom.

Under the reign of the Russian Czars peasants were equally free. As long as they didn’t make the Czar angry they were free to dance naked in the moonlight. They were free to starve and to freeze and to get sick and die if they had a mind to and no one would try to stop them. The Czar was a pretty amiable fellow, all things considered; as long as he got the grain harvest he would sit back and not interfere in the peasants’ lives. He would leave them to enjoy their freedom and their hunger and their brutal grinding poverty.

From the, The CIA World Fact book:

The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $46,400. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals’ home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets.

Hmm, “In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions,” or as George Orwell might say, sounds like some of us are more equal than others. “US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products.” So is this flexibility the same as or greater than your freedom? This flexibility means that private individuals and US business firms enjoy a flexibility that overshadows your freedom and even our national sovereignty and makes them unto Czars.

They can walk into the plant and clap their hands standing on a packing crate and announce, “You’re all fired! Get out!” Now tell me what freedom that you possess to counterbalance their flexibility?

“Patrol unit twenty seven, be advised, we have reports of unemployed workers dancing naked in the moonlight. See the man, corner of Peasant Avenue and Flexibility Street.”

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine who is homeless and is living under a bridge. He told me about his job interview at a place where a Colonel fries chicken.

“On your application you listed that you had been arrested?”

“Yes sir, when I was twenty, back in the 1970′s I was arrested for photocopying dollar bills and using them in coin changers.”

“You realize that we will have to run a full background check on you before we could hire you?”

My friend looked at me and said, “I’m admitting to felony forgery! If I was going to lie about being arrested wouldn’t I think up something better than that?

His credit check listed no bank account so finally my friend said, “Look mister, I just need a job, I’m here to fry chicken for you, I don’t want the keys to the front door.” In better times my friend had spent five years as a fast food restaurant manager but these are not better times.

When I first became unemployed myself I tried to land a job as a county school bus driver. The benefits were good and it was part time work and I could still try to resuscitate by own business. The county garage had a banner across their fence facing the highway, “Now Hiring, school bus drivers.” So I pulled in and removed a clean copy of my resume’ from my folio but the receptionist told me that I had to apply for the job online.

Okay, no problem, I went home and filled out the application and all went well until they asked, “List five people who are not related to you who will give you a personal recommendation. Let’s see, I’ve never been arrested and I have a perfect driving record. I have a background in driving heavy equipment and I’ve lived in this town for a little more than a year.

Please note – your references will be contacted by e-mail and will have 48 hours to respond and will not be contacted a second time.

So I went back down to the bus garage, surely when I explain my situation humans would intervene on my behalf, but no, the rules are the rules. My relatives told me to establish five phony  e-mail addresses “Ubenstuck@comcast, or Rukidding@Yahoo.com. I just wanted to drive a school bus not marry somebody’s daughter. Being from out of town isn’t a crime and I wasn’t trying to borrow money.

My ex-wife had been out of work and just landed a new job, they had told her during the interview that the job would pay $12.00 per hour but when she showed up for work on her first day the paperwork said $10.00 per hour. “What’s that matter? Is there something wrong? Why did you stop filling out the paperwork? Do you object to our using our flexibility to cob you out of $80.00 per week?”

A lady friend wrote to me of working on her new job, she was promised benefits and a raise after ninety days. As the time was growing short her boss called her into his office, “Look,” he said, “this just isn’t working out. I’m giving you your two weeks notice.”

She was shocked, no complaints, reprimands or write ups from management had been lodged against her performance. When she showed up for work the  following day her co-workers all seemed a bit surprised to see her and what’s more there was someone else sitting at her desk doing her job. Only then did she begin to think back to her first day on the job as a young woman in tears had run past her in the hallway with a box of personal belongings in her arms. She had taken that woman’s job just as this woman was taking hers.

As the old song says, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Not Czarist Russia but Stalinist Russia!

“Comrade, come in, sit down, we have a few questions we would like to ask you? “What makes you want to work for the People’s Republic of Convenience stores?

You have no right’s, none what so ever. You can be asked any question and you have no fifth amendment right and even a slight hesitation can disqualify from employment and you can either take it or you can get up and leave.

Would you rather be a duck or a sparrow? Would you rather play baseball or golf? If you sold five Tickle Me Elmo’s on your shift, how many would you re-order for the week? If your co-worker wouldn’t help with a task that you’d been assigned to do together, would you, A. Do the work all by yourself or B. Complain to your supervisor. I’ve been asked all of these questions and for me the correct answer would have been, C. Snatch him up by the shirt collar and tell him to get busy or come five o’clock me and him are going to have a go round out in the parking lot.

It doesn’t matter if golf is your one passion in life they want you to answer baseball, because baseball is a team sport. The same as a duck or a sparrow, flock versus solo and the correct answer is, A. because they don’t care how the job gets done they just want it done. Complaining to the supervisor won’t get the job done, will it? Answering, C. will get you either escorted off the property or promoted to the companies collections department. The last thing they want on the premises is a worker with backbone unless of course they can use it to their advantage.

The job police are all powerful; they can run a background check, they can look in your car or talk to your former employers. They can talk to your landlord and run a full credit check and even check your bodily fluids. “Do you like to read books, Montag? Answer carefully; your promotion at the fire department is dependent upon your answer.

You are as free as Tom Joad standing naked in front of the heart machine in the metropolis. The job police bludgeon you like the preacher Casey to enforce the flexibility of their masters. You are only as free as the coins in your pocket as you fly on your trapeze without a net. One slip, one miscue, will land you in a land as cold as the Russian steppe and as hard as any KGB interrogator.

Who told you that this was a free country?

I’d wager it was the same people who told you about the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny and Santa Claus.


David Glenn Cox is an award winning writer and musician, and is the author of the novel, The Servants of Pilate.


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