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McJob Page

 - Dedicated to the jobs we have all done to pay the bills and try to "keep our heads above water," and to jobs that give meaning to the phrase, "a day late and a dollar short" -

 "What you don't necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that what you're actually selling is your life... [in the working underclass] there are few or no rewards for heroric perfromance."  - Barbara Ehrenreich, from the book, Nickel and Dimed - On (Not) Getting By in America -

 "...always coming and going, always working deadlines, always doing things as they absolutely need to be done. No matter our vocation, we so often find ourselves living life as a form of triage."  - Michael Perry, from the book, Truck - a love story  - 

 ""I will work harder"...[Boxer's] answer to every problem, every setback..." - George Orwell, from the book Animal Farm - a fairy story  -

 "People who romanticize the blue-collar culture for the most part...are idiots; and, probably never worked a real physical job in their entire lives - academics; politicians; fools; media hacks; con-men; and, the like."  
 - Bob Keith -

 (Click on the links below or scroll down for commentary)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (a quote on blue-collar guys)

 McDonaldization of Society



Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (a quote on blue-collar guys)
   One of my favorite quotes on the working man, comes from the book Catch-22.  Set overseas during World War II, the main character Yossarian is fed up with his tent-mate Orr. They share a tent while in the Army Air Corps.  They await dangerous bombing missions to fly over enemy territory and the time waiting between missions is agonizing.  Orr has an annoying habit of tinkering with the tent's leaking kerosine heater.  It is loaded with tiny parts. One day Yossarian could not stand the tinkering anymore and lashed out at Orr in his own mind.
   "Orr was an eccentric midget, a freakish, likeable dwarf with a smutty mind and a thousand valuable skills that would keep him in a low income group all his life...he could engross himself in an inconsequential task for hours without growing restless or bored, as oblivious to fatigue as the stump of a tree...Orr was a happy and unsuspecting simpleton with a thick mass of wavy polychromatic hair parted down the center. He would be mere child's play for [the bullies of the world]. They would take his money, screw his wife and show no kindness to his children."
   Heller, J. (1955, 1961). Catch-22. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 
 McDonaldization of Society 
   Around 1993 sociologist George Ritzer coined one of my favorite phrases. He came up with the phrase, "the McDonaldization of Society." I wish I had thought of it. Basically, it uses the McDonald's template of having all the prices on the keys, giving the workers set steps to wait on customers and make the food, and even lighting up the pie keys on the cash register to remind the counter-person to ask if the customer wants dessert. The workers are to always be polite and quick but only polite enough so as not to take too long for each customer. Around 1991, Robin Leidner did a field study of McDonald's and actually worked the job and then wrote about it. She found much of the same rituals that Ritzer found. 
   The movie Falling Down took a shot at the ritualism trend. Michael Douglas played a troubled character that had a bit of a dangerous tantrum when he could not get his hamburger the way he wanted it.
   Now all this is interesting and well and good except what if this robot type ritualized service spills over into the greater society? Wall-Mart stores all basically look the same. Cruise ships herd you about on the ship to their events and activities - one often does not even know they are on water. Suburban lawns are all cut the same and the houses only differ in design slightly, often for blocks or even miles. The car companies convince us to be "individuals" and find our manhood but only if we drive one of their monstrous Hummers -  regardless that the gas prices are outrageous. 
   Old dead sociologist Max Weber called this "rationalization." That's a $50 academic word meaning we all muck about like robots. O'l Max also coined the term the "Iron Cage" of ritual. Believe it or not he came up with that over a hundred years ago. I believe the cynical term is best used when bureaucracy is so ritualized in its inept rules that it is to the detriment of an individual or even a whole group. 
   Hey, I say hop on a f---'n plane and see a third-world country. You will learn rather quickly we don't need to do half the nonsense we do on any given day here in this country. Although I have noticed some third-world country tourism now likes to herd you to their "special sites." And, they are becoming enthralled with fast food joints. The "Colonel" and his chicken are global man - the Bird Flu be damned.  It is best to get out on your own in the third-world - dangers not-with-standing. But it is best to get out on your own here too and just free-lance your travels out from under the ubiquitous ritualism of society.
   Yet, when it is all said and done, it is still a realatively free country here in the United States. I will defend to my death your right to drive a Hummer until you go bankrupt and cut your lawn four times a week until it cries in pain. 
- by Bob Keith, July 23, 2006 -
   I first ran into this nifty and handy little condescending term in the book, Gerneration X by Douglas Coupland. It has a publication date of 1991. Here is the definition used in the book: "A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one." There is just something pleasantly cathartic about this book and all its quirky little made-up terms. 

 - by Bob Keith, July 23, 2006 -         

   Have you ever noticed there are companies that continually list job openings?  In this neck-of-the-woods, there seems to be five or six redunant suspects.  I have foolishly applied at them all at one time or another. They post job offerings every weekend in the local regional paper as well as the regional bi-weekly advertising paper.  Their postings are always larger than the other job listings.  In fact, sometimes they take out a whole page ad.  The timbre of the ad is urgant as they plea in desperation for help. 
   However, I recently went to one of these company's job fairs at a local hotel conference room (they pleaded for candidates in a flyer put in the Sunday paper).  The on-site interviewer told me how impressed he was with my education and experience and they would surely call me within the week.  Of course they never did.  A month or so later I was taken aback when just down from my street was a large highway billboard by the same company again pleading for help. 
   Here's the deal.  When average blue-collar guys like me from humble roots only get a piece of the picture, we fill in the missing information on our own.  I can only conclude then that perhaps these companies get some government tax breaks for each person they interview; perhaps they steel and then use interviewees' ideas that are discussed in the interview process; and, if you don't want people with an education and lots of experience then I can only conclude you want people that will not be compitition to the current management. Until someone corrects me I will assume my blue-collar guessing is correct.  The outting of these companies is as follows:  Actually, I really don't want, that after they finally call me for the first time, for it to be a call from from one of their attorneys.

 - by Bob Keith, July 22, 2006 -
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