Sociology

Don’t know what to do

It amazes me that the government only recently decided that we are in recession. I knew what was up when my teaching gig ended and I could not find work for six months. When I did locate a job, after my unemployment benefits ran out and the bills kept coming, I applied and was hired by a security guard company. Something about the people who hired me did not feel right, but I went ahead with the deal because I was not getting any offers from other sources.

From the very start, I had a problem getting my uniforms and worked in my street clothes for about a month. When I did receive my uniform, it was an oversized man’s shirt with properly fitting trousers that I was told I would have to wear every day until replacement could be found. I was dressed better wearing my own clothing, so after a day of looking like a clown, I went back to wearing my own clothes. Later, I was provided with appropriate shirts, but with constant washing and wearing I needed replacements after about 3 months. I made repeated requests for the replacements and was told repeatedly that it would take about three weeks to get them. Three weeks passed a couple of times; still no replacement shirts.

A supervisor’s assistant came to my worksite and started running his mouth about the identity of his supervisor. The man was the spouse of the branch supervisor, who had to be kept happy. Now, I had read my employee handbook very carefully and the employment of spouses or relatives, in general, was allegedly against the rules and was to be reported if observed. I did so, using the company’s internal complaint resolution website. While I was at it, I complained about my inability to get replacement shirts and expressed my concern that there was some sort of bias in play. That was 18 April.

On 21 April I was fired for no reason. Because this company is an at-will employer, they don’t have to give an explanation of their decision, but because I had observed their tactics over time, I knew that my firing was likely a result of my having filed the complaint. I immediately returned my uniforms and filed for unemployment benefits. I also filed complaints with the EEOC and the Labor Board.

The company tried to prevent me from receiving unemployment benefits by saying that I voluntarily quit. However, they couldn’t make that lie stick and I have been receiving my $81 in benefits to this day. Thank the Fed for the extension or I would likely be on the street right now. As it is, I’m hanging on by a thread and have no idea how I’m going to hang on much longer.

I apply for work every day, but get no call backs. I never believed having higher education meant work would always be readily available. As it stands today, having a degree is often interpreted as threatening and I get that tired "overqualified" excuse from employers who won’t hire me because I have too much education and experience in teaching. I’ve begun telling these people that there is no such thing as overqualified. Either one has the skills to do a job, or one does not.

Obama says this recession will get worse before it gets better. I don’t believe I can take things getting any worse for me, but I know there are others who have it much worse than I do even now. I take no comfort in that. I need work, a steady income, a way to pay my necessary bills. I’ve never had my utilities turned off, but am beginning to experience that now. I am dependent on the library for my wi-fi, have no cable service, no phones, no gas for heating.

When is the government going to bail us, the taxpayers, out of this hole created in part by Bush and company? When is someone going to help regular people who aren’t connected to the auto industry?

What are we to do?

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