For as long as I have had this blog I have resisted talking about the economy or my place in it. I suppose that is because I do not enjoy whining or putting up with it. But now I have come to what I feel is an untenable position in my life. I suppose a little background is in order.
About ten years ago I began working as a volunteer with the Friends of the Library in San Francisco. Within 9 months I had made headway enough into the organization that I was hired full time. I kept this position for four years, until the Board of Directors decided there was not enough money in the till to carry (someone) and I was now the odd man out. Canary in the coal mine, as it were, for between 2008 and 1020, six more well trained, useful, and necessary employees all fell under the budget cut axe, after myself.
I began looking for work nearly immediately after this came own in July 2008. After heeding my doctor’s advice to take one month off before resuming my job search, and holding a generous severance package, this was a do-able situation. Further taking the advice of my doctor I moved from San Francisco, as the background noise and general stress and pressure of urban life had led me to a case of hypertension.
Back on the SF Peninsula now, in a town close to where I had grown up, I took up cycling daily and this greatly improved my health. I found a job (after eight months of steady looking) with a bookstore, which turned out to be a farce in more ways than one. After a year and a half of putting up with no raises, no promotions, nothing but the same thing day after day, having been promised register training but never receiving it, an eventually moving to a town closer to the job, and being promised I would not be, the owners laid me off. They lay off half of the store employees rather than admit that a clerical error had caused them not to set aside money to pay their IRS bill.
Another year ensued of seeking work while volunteering with an online library for the blind. This led to a job which paid me quite well for writing, however, the “marketable need” of persons skilled in writing descriptively for the blind is almost nil. There was one person in the whole country, basically, paid to do this- me. And when the work contract ended the project itself was rather defunded and reverted back to volunteers. So I needed a new job, again.
I had a friend with a lead to a job crossing kids for the Los Altos Schools. This job, actually, I have continuously held while seeking full time work ever since, however, because it is only a few hours a day, it is never enough to meet my financial obligations. Jobs that would come up promising “full time work” turn out to be inevitably short-lived. I begin to feel that society wants to cram me into this little “crossing guard” role which is completely inadequate for what I am either truly worth as a worker, and inadequate for the modest living expenses I have (which have just been increased by $200 a month) and that society has begun to factor “my age and experience” against me, not as pluses, but negative strikes against me.
I am better than having to hold a three-hour per day job. I worked for far too long far too hard to even acquire the benefits of the job I held in 2008, let alone end up being treated like a young and inexperience child all over again.) Or, an “overqualified” superfluous senior.) I still see myself with a good ten years ahead of me in my professional life, but feel that society is, in fact, ignorant and unintelligent by continuing to ignore me and not allow me what I feel is a rightful place at the table.
Yes, there is always more to me than meets the eye. I play music, and I write, but I hold those things aside so I might earn a living and keep a roof over my head. once that is taken care of, then we can deal with the “real me.” Nobody I work for ever really sees this “real me” by the way, since I’m rather busy satisfying their needs than I am with gratifying my creative ego. What I do on your time is your business, what I do on my own is mine. And I like keeping it that way. I also like having the means of affording supporting myself. But the last six or seven years of “economic recovery” have been neither “recovery” nor growth. The retirement account I set up working with the Friends is long gone- it went to cover my basic rent. The basic rent I pay is going up as well, leaving me “underemployed” and unable to exist without the help of government programs. All I really want is a chance to pay for myself. I do not wish to be either a slave, a serf, or a tool of government and do not want a hand out- only a hand up. At this point I am fairly insulted by the way I have been treated by some of these interim employers, as if I am “too old to know anything useful” when I have not even begun to consider myself as “old.”
I live in a world of manifested greed through and through. Google practically own the town I live in, and its City Council. The CC will do whatever it needs to kiss ass to Google and keep the money rolling in. Google are buying up property right and left and encouraging developers to tear up perfectly good apartments to create fancier, higher-priced hideouts for their nouveau-riche uber young workers. Older and established residents watch as the community goes to hell, all of it made over to the new Masters.
So I care for the children of these new Masters, those with the wealth enough to walk about and flaunt their progeny like the trophies they surely are, often risking my life (high speed expressway red light runners pass me at 65 mph, while the speed limit is posted a calmer 45) but- who ever gave a thought about my kids? When did my children ever matter to anyone other than myself, I who was judged long ago “unworthy of inclusion” into the vast human gene pool, due to my poverty, my predilection for being unapologetic about the good psychedelics had done for me, with my artist lifestyle and my musician mentality- who would ever give a shit about me and mine, and my place in this society, other than myself ,and maybe one or two others every bit as extremely fringe as myself?
Added to the load on the back of the camel of course is the fact that while I always have been highly intelligent, I never finished college. I knew what I wanted to do, as an early graduate from high school, and I set out to do it. Returning to college was not part of the picture, once I had a taste of the Real World and Hiding From The Draft was not an ambition I sought either. I did not have the patience to keep sitting around in school listening to idiots tell me abut things I might just well learn by reading about on my own. My grammar skills are in the top 95% of any “recent college graduates” to begin with, and I do reckon they are better than most of those who played the game society’s way rather than jumped in feet first to get their feet wet in reality But that’s just another straw I never let it discourage me from applying for jobs I am experienced at. It’s another sign the hippie revolution failed to score points, however, since so many of the same stupid familiar rules seem built in to society’s stupid game. And don’t deny it! Society is stupid, when it takes a college degree to work at companies that were formed in the first place by “college dropouts” like myself. To equate intelligence with proof you can stand sitting around sponging off your parents.
That’s why I am giving the game another ten years of playing at “their” rules before I completely call in my chips, take my bat and ball and go home. Society dos not owe me a living, but I do feel society owes me a chance to regain the living that I once knew, that I worked so hard to earn, and which has apparently dissolved into the smoke and mirrors of the “economic recovery” and the unattainable American Dream. If it were truly an economic recovery, it would float all boats, including my own. That it has not is a severe indictment of what it now takes just to get by in America. Land of Opportunity- for some.