Monday, July 21, 2014

Jobs: Optional (?)

I don't understand.  Mrs ERJ comforts me.  She assures me that the sun will rise every morning whether I understand certain issues...or not.


I came of age in an era when one fought tooth-and-nail to get a good job.  Students studied the job market as intently as their books:  Average starting salaries, average number of job openings per week.

Once grasped, one did not let go.  A job conferred health benefits, the ability to take out loans, a steady paycheck and.a pension.


Today that is changed.

Pensions?  Surely you joke.  Even if your firm offered a defined benefit program it is likely the enterprise will go out of business or they will cunningly flip you over to a cash-equivalent in the eleventh hour.

Healthcare?  Another joke.  Illegal aliens get healthcare.  Unemployed people get healthcare.  You don't need a stinking job to get healthcare.

Credit?  News outlets no longer run stories of dogs getting credit card applications in the mail.  Nor do they run stories of 130 year old Chicago voters getting offers of discount mortgages.  Those stories happen so often that they are no longer newsworthy.

Remaining detached

I am pretty good at remaining detached from this kind of comedic theater except when it impacts my family. 

My oldest daughter taught school in a large southern city.  This summer she enlisted to start a church in a different "an under-served" southern city.  "Under-served" is in quotes because Google street view suggests that there is a church on virtually every corner of this city.

The pastor for this start-up flew in from California.  There is no congregation, yet.  Most of the work has been "visioning", renting a worship space and deep-cleaning it.

Oldest daughter felt so called by God that she quit her job so she can stay in this city and continue to power-wash the walls with Lysol.

She does not really know where she is going to live.  She does not know how she will make her cell phone or car payments nor how she will pay for car insurance or healthcare insurance.

Hair ball

Many of my readers are about my age.  If you are like me you wonder how much more strain our systems can absorb before they sprinkle pieces-parts across the pavement.  Quitting a good job is cause for coughing up a major hair ball.  Especially if you are a "worrier" like me.

But my daughter does not live in my world.  She does not live with my history.  She did not grow up with my family's stories of Depression era wolves scratching at the brown paper bag covering the doorway.

She grew up hearing about Mrs ERJ spending a year in Honduras starting a bilingual school.  She grew up changing oil in cars, rotating tires shooting guns and cutting weeds with a machete.  She was raised to be resourceful, self-reliant and confident.  She speaks fearlessly of living out of her car as she seeks work.


Michigan has a volunteer program where organizations adopt stretches of state highway and pick up trash several times a year.  That is what I was doing Saturday.

Twelve fellow Knights of Columbus showed up and we had a jolly good time.  One of the fellows I was working with shared his experiences with the job market in the upper mid-West.

A subsidiary of his firm attempted to expand one of their operations.  They needed an additional fifty employees.  They put an ad in the paper and had five hundred applicants.

Each applicant was given a simple math test.  A sample question would be, "Your partner tells you he needs a board that is seven feet, six inches long.  You have eight foot long boards in the back of the truck.  How much must you either cut off to make the board your partner asked for?"

Each applicant was given a simple IQ test.  Example: A silhouette of a tool was shown and the applicant was asked to circle the appropriate choice:  Hammer      Screw driver       Adjustable Wrench     C-Clamp

Each applicant was required to submit a hair sample for drug analysis.

Five of the five hundred applicants passed all three tests.  I dare say that 80% of my high school class could have passed all three tests....including the girls.

It gets better.

On the first day of work the police took one of the five successful test takers into custody.  His social security number tripped some outstanding warrants.  He was a person-of-interest in a murder case in another state.  Normally, warrants would not be issued to scoop up a person-of-interest but this person disappeared shortly before his wife was murdered.

A new normal

So maybe my daughter will have little difficulty in finding a job.  Mrs ERJ tells me that there is no longer a stigma associated with quitting a job as long as the employee gives sufficient notice.  Employers cannot offer many perks that reward loyalty.  They see that many of the benefits that used to come with a job are now freely doled out by .GOV  A high turn-over rate is part of everybody's business model.

Maybe she will find a room to rent and maybe the other tenants will be "good" people.

Fathers worry, especially about their daughters.  We raise our children to fly but then we bite our knuckles when they leave the nest.

Mrs ERJ comforts me.  She tells me it will turn out OK.  Our daughter can come back home and lick her wounds if she miscalculated.  I may have to move my reloading bench out of her bedroom but that will be a small price to pay.

Thanks for letting my cry on your shoulder.


  1. Understood and agreed... They DO see the world differently than we did. And that scares the hell out of me...

    1. One item in her favor is that she is not afraid of hard work. The goofy thing is that this church expansion is 900 miles away from her other job. She knows NOBODY in the town. That really limits the number of couches where she can sleep as she sorts things out.

      Unfortunately, she got her quixotic desire to do heroic deeds from me.

      Warm fuzzies come and go,
      but scar tissue accumulates. -variant of Jone's Law


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