An aspect of current society is the rat race, and a sub component of that is having a job. Some professions are more desirable to be in or are more necessary than others, but some aspects detailed below can apply to many, if not all positions. The biggest employer is retail it seems, and I’ve been involved with that, likely along with some readers and contributors to this site as well, so most of the material might seem it’s orientated in that direction.
The job search is hard, but it appears harder for the crummy jobs. I’ve filled out applications for jobs related to my major that only asked for my references and contact info, while applications for a department store had me do this and much more. The application asks that you include your resume, as before you’re a more valuable resource to the company, you’re just a piece of paper. Then you also have to fill in a work history session, which the resume would already cover. It’s really fun when they require your previous wage history so they get the heads up if a negotiation occurs. They may also ask for the manager’s name and address of the places you previously worked. If you even remember the previous crummy places, you likely never really cared about them when you were there, let alone now that you’re not.
My favorite part of these applications are the hour long personality tests that pretty much ask how much of a docile robot zombie drone slave you are capable and willing of being. Some of the questions and prompts are rigged, so what do you say? For instance: “Tell me about yourself.” Apparently you’re supposed to put out your qualifications as a reply to this, describing how much of a tool you can be for the company, but when I, and likely many others hear this, we interpret it to mean more along the lines of your age, interests, pets, and similar things, as who wants to view themselves as something that exists only to be used by a corporate entity? How about this statement- “I find repetitive tasks boring”. If I’m honest, and say yes, then I’m not a good fit for the job. If I say no and lie, and I’d imagine that would be a lie for many, and thereby be easy to notice, well, I’m lying, and who likes a liar, so let’s not hire him. There are willing and or unknowing robot zombie drone slaves unfortunately, and they seem to be the majority of the population. Another amusing, but non-personality related questions is “Does any of your family or friends work for this company?” You might think that they ask this so they could pair you up and they’re being nice, but they ask this more to keep you separate in case you conspire with each other to give unwarranted discounts to each other or something similar.
Managers and leaders are expected to be even more idiotic, as I’ve had interviews for these positions that ask “What would you do if a co-worker was being insubordinate?” I’d ask what’s going on and hear them out, as again, some policies are ridiculous, and perhaps they think something isn’t safe for instance. Apparently all independent thoughts are to be immediately squashed, demanding total obedience or else, as the interviewer makes a surprised face or says a sarcastic “good” or “interesting” as a response.
The companies also expect an impossible amount of multitasking. At a deli I was alone for around 45 minutes at a time, and the manager wanted me to do the dishes, and at food service places that’s a full time job on its own, but you also have to serve customers, which can be 15 minutes each if they order a lot, disassemble and clean a machine, do inventory in the fridge, and let’s say I also use the bathroom for a few minutes. The manager then would return from break or whatever else they were doing and complain that something wasn’t done yet. Furthering the zombie drone agenda, people then might say something like “You think this job is beneath you then,” but the way they say it is almost like they think I think I’m some more advanced life form in general and not just full of myself, I suppose you’d say. Many are capable of much more than this, and furthermore, most people aren’t willing to put maximum effort and efficiency into a bunch of boring, menial, repetitive and ultimately useless and fruitless tasks. One may say that you get money, but that’s really not a reward. More on how it’s a ridiculous and truly unnecessary invention will appear in a later post. (No, I don’t mention most or any of these things at an interview, although at this point I should just to notice the reactions.) I’ll use what I believe to be an economic term to describe this economic system, and even society as a whole: It’s not ergonomic, aka people friendly.
Another lovely feature of many corporations is “at will” employment, which means it can be ended at any time by either party, you or the company, for pretty much any reason. You being able to leave at any time sounds nice, but considering how long it can take to get another job, and it’s next to impossible to function in this really nasty system without money, in addition to losing any benefits you likely didn’t have from your previous spot, makes leaving it unlikely. On the company’s side, the boss can fire you since you’re bald, and they think that’s ugly, although they would try to use, and likely get away with, some other excuse like the company is downsizing (the lower folks are removed, while the higher folks then get raises) or your job performance, no matter how good it actually is. You could have won employee of the month or year numerous times and they’d still throw this excuse out there.
All companies really care about is the bottom line. Take the HR, or human resources department. A resource (aka a tool), is something that is used to accomplish something else. The company is only concerned with how it can use you. Other things are resources too, such as natural materials, i.e. trees for lumber, and oil for fuel. Most companies view employees and customers not as persons anymore, but as lesser objects, economic units. At least a tree is a living thing, until is cut down for the wood. Oil is an undefined and nonliving gunk of a substance, and that’s probably the closer view to what these businesses take. Workers and clients do keep a company running, so they send out things like coupons and employee discounts and vacations, but that’s only so they will stay happy, or more likely content (there are also some legal issues that require vacation time and the like), so you can do your job better and thereby keep the place going.
The typical interview will further reveal the concern for the bottom line. Many places pay minimum wage, or a bit above, like $10, and often keep employees at part time, so they don’t have to give you any benefits. Most businesses I’ve been to said they cap hours at 2o or 30 something, otherwise they’d have to do the health insurance. They also do shifts of five or four hours, otherwise anything above and they need to give you a paid lunch. Or they can say that we only really need and want so many people here at certain times, as that’s when the customers are usually here, so that’s when you can try to sell the most stuff, and thereby make the most money for the company. There is always some item on sale that they want you to push or a store membership, in addition to whatever else the customer already has. They can be really picky over prices as well. Say an item is $19.99, or $19.95. You can round it up to $20 for ease of adding when a customer asks the price, and someone else in the company would get upset over that. That extra penny or nickel is totally going to deter the customer and thereby bankrupt the company.
These shifts of 5 or 4 hours are spread out over 5 days, so they want you to have full time availability while not getting any of the full time “perks”. Let’s say they gave me 20 hours. I would prefer two 10hr days in order to have more free time overall and to just get the crap over with already. Working part time might make others think you have more free time, which you do, but it can be hard to use it due to when the shifts usually are. The shifts are often on weekends and or evenings, especially retail or restaurant, so if anyone has a more traditional 9-5 job, it’s hard to plan things with them. If it’s not that scenario, they’re in the middle of the day, and kill plans, like 11-4. Plenty of museums and fairs for instance go by a 9-5, or similar schedule as well, so how would you fit that in with your job?
I have friends and relatives in these crummy jobs as well (part, full, and beyond full time), and their attitude toward them is odd. They say how much they hate them and that they rarely have money and the time to do anything, but I can mention an event to them a month ahead of time, even someone’s wedding or other bigger event, and they say “I don’t know, I might have to work.” They seem perfectly willing to miss out on a potentially unique opportunity in order to work for 3 hours at their piss poor job. The schedule is made out two weeks in advance they say, but I’ve doubled the time they have to let the manager know they can’t work this day or to try to switch shifts with someone. If that doesn’t work, just call off and make the time for yourself, especially since a lot of them have been there for a good bit, aren’t late a lot or miss many days, and do a good job.
Some companies have blackout dates, which are days you can’t request off, although you may be scheduled off. Depending on the event, and especially if it was something like a wedding, I’d say cut my wages, fire or demote me, or whatever you’ll do If I don’t show up that day, but I’m not showing up, and any punishment you dish out is 100% morally unjustified, no matter what the silly made up policies say. My life does not revolve around stocking shelves or frying chicken or whatever other aspect of drudgery you can concoct, and I am going to live it. If the company gets upset over that, the “bad move” is on their part.
Then there is the silliness of night shifts, early morning work and school hours. If you’re in something like agriculture or a trade and have a big project, and you need or want to be up at 4 am, go for it, but no one in their right mind would want to be up at 4 am to change price tags on something from a box of crackers to a fax machine. This is unnatural, as people aren’t nocturnal creatures, and their sleep cycle normally wouldn’t run this way. You can allegedly get used to it, but it takes a while. On the note of sleep cycles, it need not be night shift that can throw you off. Say you’re supposed to be somewhere at 7:30 am, and you’re not tired until 12 or 1 am, and by the time you actually fall asleep, that might be 5 hours of slumber before you wake up to get ready to go, and although you can function, it’s not your prime.
Workplace dress codes can be overdone, such as guys “having to be” clean shaven. Some places say this looks more professional, but when its locations such as the grocery store, how professional can a cashier get? It’s some people’s first job as a teenager! Also, there are people, such as doctors and lawyers, who fit the more common outlook on professional, who have facial hair. There’s even professional chefs and waiters that have it, so having to be clean shaven or wear a hair net on it at a restaurant or grocery store is silly. Even better, all the staff can be clean shaven, and then the food is served to a customer with a ZZ Top beard that ends up getting dipped in everything they’re eating.
This affects employees’ life outside of work as well. Don’t know how fast everyone’s facial hair grows? If you’re the traditional 9-5 type, and wanted some facial hair, what are you going to do? See if you can have a weekend only beard? If you work a varying schedule, you might be there any day of the week, so good luck there. Clothing isn’t that big of an issue either. If you’re a lawyer or politician for instance, your job is to convince others, and you don’t always need a suit or skirt to do that. Yes different colors have different effects and so on, but wearing a color shirt that the store policy says you can’t is seriously not going to interfere with doing a price check, or some other peon undertaking in any shape or form. On the other hand, there are those whose clothing is more like equipment, and necessary at that. A police officer or soldier would have a rather hard time without a bulletproof vest, and a firefighter without a flame retardant outfit will certainly be less effective.
It’s also great when the job costs you money, such as having to purchase equipment for it. Sometimes the company refunds you and or gives you a set amount you can spend on the items, but other times it’s up to you. Some jobs do working interviews or something similar where they want to test your potential for the job before they hire you by having you do some of its tasks. It makes some sense, but you are working for them for free for that amount of time, and furthermore, they often want you to bring your own gear for the observation! If you’ve never done this job before, why would you have any of the gadgets it requires? The company wants you to go pick up nonslip or steel-toed boots for instance, which you may never use again, in order for you to be there for an hour or two with no guarantee of getting the position.
Teamwork and Family
Putting all of these factors together, it’s great when the manager then has the nerve to say the company really cares about its employees and customers, and how it’s all about family and teamwork. I can’t help but sit through these conversations and wonder to myself if the interviewer isn’t stricken with cholera due to how much contradictory verbal diarrhea and vomit they produce. The logical part of me wants them to continue to see how big they can dig their hole and or how firmly they actually believe this ridiculousness, but another part, the emotional one, wants them to shut up already as they’re so annoying, even angering.
I do believe they say the rat race is a pointless one, but some may say actual rats run the maze for a piece of cheese, so there is a point. In humanity’s case, there is no cheese or any other reward at the end, and that’s if it has an end, and isn’t like an extending hall way in a horror movie.