Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bottles and Cans Just Clap Your Hands

Canning is a job, and a dirty, tedious, frustrating, and humiliating one at that. Of course most people probably don't view it as being legitimate work, and insofar as I'm not a part of the production of a desired good or service they're right. But it IS labor, and it does pay, though seldom more than a third Oregon state's minimum wage and half of the federal. That stark nickel-at-a-time reality puts to shame my youthful resentment toward food and service work; how grateful I'd be right now to earn ten bucks an hour washing dishes! I wouldn't be making a pitiful spectacle of myself rooting through trash cans in public, only to lump heavy and unwieldy garbage bags or trundle a noisy shopping cart full of a sticky, leaky mess that smells like a whore used Purple Jesus for a sitz bath ... culminating wearying hours and blistering miles later in fighting with fickle and often broken-down deposit return machines at grocery stores, reluctantly tended to surly "courtesy" clerks plunging wood stakes through my heart out of the corners of their eyes. All the while hoping I don't cut my hands on broken glass or contract hepatitis C from a casually discarded syringe. Yessir, I'll stoically don that goofy wage slave uniform, choke down my ire at the one or two unflappably incompetent and jackass bosses, and not groan inwardly at my tax withholdings every time I get paid.

I do this because my stamina isn't meet for day labor and I refuse to panhandle, or "spange" in street vernacular. Except for when I lackadaisically fly my "Without whiskey it's just another day" sign on New Year's Eve, which I don't do every year. I just don't believe in getting something from nothing; "ex nihilo" isn't the lodestar by which I navigate my personal microeconomics. I already receive food stamps and am medically insured, and my eventual return to subsidized housing will also ride sidesaddle on the back of taxpayer largess; that's enough government dole for me, and don't think for a second I'd pin my reliance on it as a proud merit badge on my sash! True self-sufficiency may elude me to the grave — having backed myself into the dismal corner that I have — but I would grievously affront both my dignity and the fruits of my fellow man's labors if I didn't at least strive to defray some of the cost of my burden to society. What gets me is when one of my peers tries to panhandle me as I pass by portaging my filthy lucre. As much as I try to bite my tongue, I still end up expressing my contempt toward able-bodied kids sitting on their asses hitting an obvious fellow bum up for money — are these guys for real? On the flip-side of that coin, occasionally someone will offer me a dollar or two when they see me schlepping down the street, which I turn down on principle but mentally kick myself for doing.

Godlessness, how fervently I hope the Employment Access Center can place me in a part-time job that I can even enjoy and keep! My résumé is disgraceful enough that I REALLY need an advocate to sell me to prospective employers sympathetic to helping people get on their feet. It seems that employers' demeanors toward prospective employees have shifted from viewing them as potential assets to being unavoidable liabilities, making for a work environment rife with suspicion and hostility. What with credit reports, criminal background checks, personality tests, and all the other flaming hoops people are required to leap through in order to land even a minimum-wage part-time retail or service job ... you practically have to stream behind you throughout your life a paper trail that gleams as brilliantly alabaster as a swan plying the shallows of fabled Avalon on a balmy midsummer afternoon! Let's just hope this Central City Concern advocacy pans out; I've been with that outfit for nearly four years and have only just started thinking they may actually end up helping me out — I'm fed up with canning every day I do it. I'm also going to try to work for Funtastic and other temporary gigs throughout the festival season coming up.

Guess the song this post's title came from and post it here in a comment!



    "Pullin' out jives and jamboree handouts
    Two turntables and a microphone
    Bottles and cans and just clap your hands"

    "Where it's at!!"

    1. You win a ... uh, bag full of cans and bottles?