07 July 2008

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

(Jim Mora fans go away.  This is about a different topic.)

I see that there are many jobs in respectable blue collar fields that pay handsomely, far more than I make to be sure.  Obviously these are only average wages/salaries.  But what high averages they are.

See, this is why I should have listened to my parents.  They didn't want me to attend university; they insisted that I learn a trade. But poor stupid me said that they didn't know what they were talking about, that a university education would pay off far better than a vocational school training regimen. How ignorant I was. Now I have nothing to fall back on when my past lack of integrity and moral judgment decides to assert itself, as it always will.

And here I stand today, the Damocles' sword of economic marginalization and potential unemployment hanging over my head, waiting to sever it when the chance is right - without salable or economically viable skills to fall back on. Pushing paper? Why, here's a budding paper pusher with a freshly minted university degree, we'll hire him for less - and without the baggage of a "anti-social" personality or questionable socioeconomic background to boot.

Not enough years to have gained "real" experience (that would be around 10 years' tenure in the field) and thus more-or-less permanent economic security; too much experience to be "just starting out" and thus suitable for entry level employment at dirt cheap starter wages. Overqualified for the beginner jobs, and vastly underqualified for the middle to upper level jobs - that fallow crack in the labor market that leads (again, for me) right back to the fry cooker in the kitchen of an anonymous fast-food establishment located somewhere out in the bleak suburban asphalt tarmac moonscape, far from convenient transit service, and a world removed from hope and the promise of a better future.

Well, I could go back to counting cars, something I did for peanuts as a "independent contractor" (aka casual laborer) not so long ago, when I inhabited that vapid limbo between skill-less automaton and educated professional called university. And you always wondered how those rubber hoses you occasionally see stretched across roadways, attached to small metal machines which are traffic counters, find their way out there. To do this takes no great intellectual skill. (Which means at least I am good at it.) The main qualifications are a strong set of muscles (for nailing road spikes into concrete, no easy task in 100 degree weather; also for carrying the mechanical counters which are heavier than they look), a high tolerance for working outdoors in broiling summer heat (this is the South, you know), a streak of nerve (gotta watch those cars, they come at you fast), and a willingness to accept the part-time, seasonal nature of the work and the fact that you can never make a living off it.

When I was looking for work after college graduation, nearly every company to which I applied for employment would offer me this very type of work, in place of the professional position I had actually applied for. Whenever I heard from these employers' mouths - and it was inevitable - the phrase "I know it's not quite what you're looking for" - typical dickheadese - I knew that I was being two-timed and shortchanged yet again, and that they found it perfectly acceptable to employ a master's degree holder with a 4.0 graduate school GPA in what amounted to a blue collar job. It was a good gig while in school, but as a professional career makes for a fine dead end.

Fascism works in such fine, subtle ways in the new Amerika. Keep 'em low and dumb, that's the spirit!

I admit, I took these dickheads up on their offers sometimes, sucker and dolt that I am. But hunger is real, and lack of food makes the need for any sort of work much more compelling. These folks had under their employ the most overqualified field worker they ever managed to find - dirt cheep, too!

Somebody told me that I should go back to school. With two degrees already to my credit? I spent six years in higher education, allegedly acquiring skills that were supposed to insulate me from the harsh vagarities of economic booms and busts. Then many, many more years spent below the poverty line, working at minimum wage, part-time, and temp jobs (thanks to the benevolence of my Type A personality colleages who found me "socially unacceptable" for professional work) until I was, by some miracle, somehow able to secure my present position which at least makes some use of my hard earned skills. So I am not going back through that gauntlet again. No sir.

This same someone suggested going back to graduate school to obtain a doctoral degree (what's left, anyway?). Are you kidding? I am not going to enter academia and submit myself to that quagmire. You think the real world is astoundingly fascist and closed minded? Well brother, you ain't seen nothing yet, when it comes to academe. I would be professionally cast off faster than a spent bait on a fishing hook.

Not to mention that perhaps some of my views are quite anathema to the State worshiping guild of higher education. (If you are a regular reader you know what I mean.)

If vocational school is what is meant - yeah, why not? I have nothing to lose. I have never been particularly skilled or interested in tools, but I hear the work pays well.  

So lies the ruins of my doomed attempt to claw my way out of the trailer park. But in modern Amerika, we (aka the affluent dickheadery) can't be having poor white trash improving their lot - we need them to staff the discount stores, fast food joints, pizza parlors, and T-shirt shops in a million barren and ramshackle suburban strip malls across the land - a world where people sell crap to each other for a living, an endless circle of hamburgers and colas and worthless imported junk (which gives the Asiatics, at least, something to sing about).

I will have to refamiliarize myself with this world. It will take time and effort. I have seen and tasted a better life, and like the complete moron which I am, allowed it to slip through my fingers.

And for the most part, the game works. Most of us trailer park refugees are too dumb to know how to really improve our lot in life, anyway. It's called heredity for a reason. Poor people stay poor cuz we're stupid, and we just keep on inheriting that same stupidity from our parents and passing it on to the next generation, which always seems to degenerate into a worse heap of trash than the one before it.

In a few generations hence, at this rate, the chimpanzees will be able to best us in a game of checkers.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda, I suppose.

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