Saturday, November 27, 2004

The low point

I'm listening to Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed on tape tonight. I've already read Nickel and Dimed in its original paper form, but I liked it and I like books on tape. I especially like re-reading books I've already read, so the whole experience is like, "stuff I like" cubed.

Anyway, its at the part were she says how her "low point" working for the Merry Maids was when one of her co-workers was forced to continue working on a badly injured ankle: cleaning bathrooms while hopping on one foot and crying.

This makes me think about low points at various jobs I've had.

My low point working for the California PIRGs (a vast cluster-fuck of low points if any job ever was one) was one day when I was out canvassing. I was in a blind terror because I was 30 minutes from being picked up by my canvass supervisor, and at least $100 below my daily quota for the third day in a row. This made me suspect I was in danger of being fired, and I had spent all of my savings moving out to the Bay Area in the first place, so I'd have been super screwed if I found myself unemployed. At the very least I was guaranteed to be called out for a Cultural Revolution style round of self-criticism in front of all my supervisors, AGAIN, where I'd be made to discuss, AGAIN, why my attitude was interfering with my ability to raise the proper sums of money necessary to save some goddamn endangered salamander or whatever. Anyway, when someone was finally willing to come to the door and talk to me, it turned out to be an impoverished elderly man who was recovering from heart surgery. He really wanted to help, he pleaded, he just didn't have any money. He even brought out his prescriptions to show me how expensive his aftercare requirements were. I badgered him until he finally broke. He ended up giving me $10 and I walked away feeling like a pimp. "This is the worst thing I will ever to do to anyone, EVER," I swore. Probably, though, it wasn't.

My low point working for the Hotel and Restaurant Employee's Union in Las Vegas was when my supervisor threatened to fire me because he'd heard rumors I was talking to some of the other workers about organizing our own employee union. I informed him that he was a hypocrite, he countered with the accusation that I was inadequately committed to the cause. Maybe that was true, I ventured, but I just really wanted some sick leave and vacation time and it seemed gross in the extreme for a labor union not to offer its own staff this. He reminded me that I'd get myself fired talking like that. I agreed that this was probably the most likely outcome, but in the end I quit before anyone could get around to it.

My low point working at Wendy's in high school was the day that my boss offered to "use his influence" to get me moved from my deadly boring job behind the Pasta and Taco bar and "promoted to Fries." This was the same man who used to invite me to spend the weekends with him at his beach house. There was some not-so-subtle fine print on that promotion offer, I reasoned, and turned him down. Still, I lose sleep over it sometimes. Is there really some heinous little sub-economy out there in which women really DO trade sex for the opportunity to skim french fries out of boiling vats of grease? Shit, he wasn't even offering me a raise...just the right to stand over a cauldron of spitting molten-hot beef tallow every day. That might be THE utter low point. The low point of my personal working life AND the low point of woman-kind's entire historical experience of sexual harrassment. Not the worst experience of sexual harrassment, mind you, but the most insultingly shitty offer of quid-pro-quo "sex for benefits," EVER. So thanks, Micheal, you little time you want a blow job at LEAST offer up a quarter raise in the bargain, so I'd feel justified in filing a lawsuit. Fries, Jesus, you go to the EEOC with that shit and they'd just laugh at you.


Blogger jeremy said...

I'm absolutely sure the sub-economy exists in Michael's mind (and the minds of innumerable other manager toads). I have no idea the extent to which it exists otherwise.

9:07 PM  

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