Job-Seeking Blues – UPDATED

So my son Buster is home from school and seeking summer employment. Yesterday he made the rounds at local businesses, none of which were hiring. Since he’s a big fella who is willing to move heavy things around, he also checked out the bigbox stores. He came home rather disgusted.

“Everywhere I went, it was, ‘we only take online applications; apply online,'” he groused. “Half the time, they couldn’t even be bothered looking up. So, you clean up, wear decent clothes, walk in trying to project a positive attitude and you hit this wall of disinterest. There’s no Human Resource Department. There’s no one interested, just these cogs in the wheels telling you that your best shot is to enter a lottery to become a cog in the wheel.”

Regular readers know that Buster is one of those people born about 70 years too late, and he bemoaned the impersonal nature of the modern job-search, and the dearth of human connectedness. “You know, if there was a personnel department you could walk into, with other people, you get a chance to meet someone, fill out a form, chat a bit — you could make an impression! Someone might say, ‘hey, he’s got the build for moving things, or, hey, he’s got a good personality; he seems like he’ll mesh well,’ but no — there’s no opportunity to put yourself forward or stand out. There’s no opportunity to shine, a little.”

Individuality does seem to be undervalued, these days.

I reminded him that unemployment rates for people in his age group — and for all youngfolk looking for summer work — are sky-high. “There is something to what you say,” I agreed. “My first job, I walked into the personnel office, met someone, filled out a form, took a quick test, and had the chance to chat for a few minutes to the personnel manager, who called me later and hired me for the staggering wage of $2.10 per hour. It was all pretty painless.”

Seems there is no chance of that, now. Employers have more applicants than they need for $7.25 per hour jobs; they don’t have to put any effort into finding the ‘right’ person. They’re not even looking for a ‘person,’ they’re looking, as Buster noted, for cogs in the wheel.

“It’s not like the old days,”
he groused. “Now — unless you know someone who can get you in, someplace — you’re just condemned to the luck of the draw. It’s like it’s not even worth trying to stand out. You stand out, you get smacked down.”

He’s got the blues, clearly. Buster’s not liking how the world works in the 21st Century; he’s finding it offensive to the notion of human dignity.

So he’s put on his fedora and broken out the blues guitar. He’s channeling Leon Redbone out on the porch. I expect to hear a “Cog-in-the-wheels Blues” sometime soon.

Anyone need a jingle-writer?

Or, perhaps, a love song?*

*Buster’s own recording, from a couple of years ago.

UPDATE: Some post-depression-era photos, in color. Remarkable. Rockwellian!

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About Elizabeth Scalia