This morning I started my post kids equivalent of the New York Times at the local cafe: the website Cafe and a cup of lukewarm tea at my breakfast table. I was especially excited to read Deb Copaken’s first piece for them. Her books have long been favorites of mine. Especially Hell Is Other Parents which, before I started reading blogs, was the one thing that assured me that I was not alone in thinking parenting was a crazy ass trip.
Then I saw the words that were chosen to be caught in an image for the Cafe piece…
May I repeat that again
Yes Deb, this is the true sign that the world is not what it should be. That you could not get hired as a greeter at a retail store. You have AN EMMY!! What were they thinking? If only they realized the gem they missed out on, the witty bon mots you could have written to throw out as people rushed past you.
Let me come at you from the other side of the equation, as a former retail manager.
From this side, things have sucked for a long time. Many of us also are college educated, even if we didn’t make it to the vaunted halls of Harvard. We probably don’t have an Emmy or a place on the New York Times Bestseller list but we may also be writers or artists or newly single parents. We have gone through trials and tribulations and lived hand to mouth for a long time.
We have to hire people seasonally. And it’s easy for us because a lot of people are out of work and we work at The Container Store, one of the few retail chains to offer benefits to more than managers and a wage that if not quite living does not equal food stamps. We are flooded in applications and get to be choosy. We may go with the first wave of people who applied.
We may try to hire the people we had to lay off post Christmas last year because they already know the job and we know they will show up. We may hire friends we know that desperately need the money. We may very well not hire you because of your accomplishments (we need someone who is going to show up and not leave when they get a better job.) But more likely we didn’t hire you because we never even got to look at your application because we hired most of our seasonal help from the September flood of applications. After all, retail salespeople out of work know that it’s the best time to get hired on seasonally .
You hit the nail on the head time and time again in your piece but what you missed is that the attitude of the people in the gilded age (that they are special and deserving of their riches because of who they are) is the same attitude in your horror that someone like you can not get a job at The Container Store.
Your story has a semi-happy ending with a job where I can’t wait to read the rest of what you write. And hopefully the ending got happier after your doctor’s appointment. But for retail workers and most of the service class, there are no happy endings.
We’re not doomed because tough times are affecting the upper middle class. We’re doomed because no one thought times were tough until they did.