Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where Have You Gone, Joe Dimaggio?

As I write this post, understand that my heart is in shreds.
No one died.
No one broke up.
No one even stubbed their toes.
Yet my chest is quite literally in pain.

This week was a tough week.
The Center is hiring an extra maintenance person and an extra security person, both part-time.
We ran an ad in the Sunday paper expressing our need.
By the time we got to work on Monday morning, we had twenty voice-mails inquiring.
By 10 am, we had twenty more.
By the end of the day, we had about fifty applicants.
That was day number one.
The amount increased exponentially throughout the week.
Which is wonderful.
Somewhere in that sea off applicants, there must logically be at least two responsible, hard-working people who we can be proud to employ.

So why the aortic pain?

Because there aren't just one or two viable options in that stack of papers.
There are sixty.
Of all the people who applied, about two-thirds of them are fully, if not totally over-qualified.
What's more, is that these are not 18 year-olds looking for an after-school job. I mean, some of them are, but most of them are tradesmen; electricians, plumbers, heating/air conditioning repairmen, carpenters. They're not lazy or uneducated. They're good at what they do. And because of the state of our economy, part-time janitorial work is their last option. If they want to feed their families or pay rent or put gas in their cars, what other choice is there?

My hearts breaks because as they come to the office and ask for applications, I have to look each one of them in the eye, smile, and choke back tears because I know that we can only give two people jobs that all of them so desperately need.

I'm not the one doing the hiring, but I'm doing all I can to make sure that worthy applicants don't get over-looked.
I've taken to drawing stars on the tops of applications if I feel that they should have an interview. If they're dressed nice or are polite or have a relevant resume, they get a star.
The ones who remind me of my father get two stars.
My father, who wouldn't miss a day of work even if he was missing an arm.
The ones who remind me of him are the ones in leather work-boots and plaid flannel shirts and stonewashed Levi's and Carhart jackets and smell like sawdust.
The ones witth creases around the corners of their eyes that still sparkle with humor and mischeif, with skin rough and calloused like leather from working outside in the sun and the cold and the wind for twenty years.
The ones who work the hardest and the longest hours.
The ones who are the best at what they do.
The ones who would do anything they could to make sure that their families were warm and safe and happy.
Those are the ones that remind me of my dad.

He has a job right now.
In fact, it's a very good job.
And we know that he's very lucky.
Because the reality of being in the trades, whether you're a laborer or a foreman, union or non-union, is that sometimes you can go without steady work for a very long time.
And there's a possibility that one day soon, my dad might not have his very good job.
Or any job at all.
And if that happens, I would want someone in my position to look at him and see how hard he must work, how trustworthy and responsible and loyal he is.
I would want someone to give him a chance to continue to provide for his family.
Because he deserves it.
And so do they.

I was in a really foul mood earlier this evening.
My boss (at my other job, not at the hospital...I kind of love my boss here) was being a total jerk.
I accidentally squirted ketchup on my shirt.
I have a lot of loose ends to tie up before I graduate.
I was at odds with living situations.
I was mad because my plans for my birthday might not work out.
I was annoyed that everything I love and want matierially is so freaking expensive.
Bascially, I was stressed and therefore I was not happy.

And then I remembered their faces.
And realized that even though my paycheck might be meager even by today's economic standards, it's still a paycheck.
My boss might be the spawn of Satan sometimes, but at least I have a job.
Moreover, I have two jobs.
One that I love.
One with really great health insurance.
At least I have a job to stress over.
And an apartment that I can afford to live in.
And even thought I have to drive a minivan because my other car tried to incinerate me, it's still a car.
I have so much to be thankful for.
And such a short time on earth.
Why should I waste my energy complaining about things that others need so badly?

That doesn't change the fact that my heart is breaking, though.

I am legitimately scared for our country.
I don't even remember feeling like this.
Even when the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, 2001 it didn't feel like this.
When that happened we came together as a nation.
And now all we're doing is pulling apart.

I am scared.
I am scared, but hopeful too.
The reason Barack Obama won this presidency is because the peope who voted for him believe that he has the power, the will, and the passion to stabilize all this chaos.
I am one of those people.
And I really hope that I'm right.
Even the people who didn't vote for him, those who hate him and all he stands for.
I imagine that they hope that I'm right, too.

Because how is it fair that people who work their whole lives, that do all they can to maximize their positions in life to make better ones for their children, suddenly find themselves unable to do so through no fault of their own?
How is it acceptable citizens are losing their jobs all around the country so that their superiors can avoid taking a simple cut in pay?
How is it reasonable that we as a country can fight a war on foreign soil that was not ours to fight in the first place and rebuild a nation that we were not asked to rebuild, but cannot afford to help our own people help themselves?

Pride and nationalism turned to apathy and indifference at some point in the last two decades, or so. Now we're stranded.
And my heart breaks for all of us.
I hope that President Obama can heal it.
Heal our society.
Heal the country.
We're all waiting.
We're all watching.

Our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.

1 comment:

VintageMagnolia said...

There's more to say, obviously. But for now you get a big, hearty....Amen.