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Maximum Rage

Back in 1994, at my first post-collegiate job, I earned a whopping $4.50 an hour. This was a whole quarter above the minimum wage so you could basically say I was living the high life.

I was an “online server” in a coffee house back when online meant actually being on a line and handling a variety of insane customers–kinda of like the Internet with less anonymity.

I fondly remember “scone man.” He would hand me two heavily-stained coffee mugs that likely never touched soap and spent 10 minutes selecting the best scone. One day, he gave me the honor of selecting the scone for him. I felt I had reached the pinnacle of my career. As I rang him up, he took the scone out of the bag, inspected it, placed it back inside the bag, swung the bag around his head and slammed it three times against the counter.

“Yeah, nice and soft,” he said and left.

Nearly 20 years later, the minimum wage is a whole $3 more, and many minimum wage workers are protesting that is not nearly enough to live on.

While a minium wage annual income is a couple of thousands below the poverty line, low-income workers are missing one crucial point:

We have way more choices on TV.

Back in 1968 when the minimum wage was at its peak and would have been the equivalent of $10.60 in today’s dollars, TV was kind of lame.

There was only a couple of channels. Nothing was 24 hours. News was actually news.

Boresville.

But now?

While low-income workers might not earn enough to have three decent daily meals, they can watch a buttload of cooking shows that almost makes you feel like you’ve eaten. There’s Top Chef  and the 4,000 other cooking shows that want to be Top Chef.

I wish I could take credit for this brilliant insight, but the credit is all due to Virginia Postrel, a writer and supposed human, who wrote a compelling piece for Bloomberg.com titled “Who Needs a Raise When You Have TV?”

Who indeed.

I mean just the other day, I was thinking my 14-year-old car with its 170,000 miles might not last another year and could I really afford a car payment and then I saw a clip of Miley Cyrus twerking on a three-day-old burrito and I thought….well, I forgot.

Because TV is awesome.

Postrel acknowledges that wages have stagnated over the last four decades, but for fuck’s sake poor people, you’ve got Duck Dynasty (slight paraprase). You don’t have to worry about how you’ve been left behind by the Kardashians because you can keep up with them on DVR.

Postrel reports we watch way more television now because what the fuck else are you going to do as you kill time between your first and second job? Or maybe you have the “ample leisure time” to watch hours of Fox News reports insisting a minimum wage increase will break the bank because your hours have been cut just before the holiday season or you were just laid off.

So buck up, poor person. Turn on that TV to that yuletide log burning in the fireplace so you aren’t reminded that you haven’t paid your heating bill and revel in the abundance.

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A Gift from the Direct Mail Gods

As you know, I received a non-pink pink slip the other day. At first, things seemed bleak, but as the saying goes: “When one door closes, a mailbox opens and in that mailbox is a barely glued flyer containing the most important documents on earth.”

Evidence:

This arrived yesterday. I got the feeling that it was extremely urgent (I’m psychic) so I threw the mail on the table, ate five Reese mini-eggs and flipped through Entertainment Weekly. My heart pounded in anticipation when I remembered nine hours later that I received something important in the mail.

It was like a gift from the gods of direct mail mass marketing. Their names are Bob and Gennifer:

I could win a car or a 3D TV or an iPAD 3 or a Kindle (not a Kindle Fire? Boo!) if I just matched three like symbols. Amazingly I had two of each….what could the center spot be???

This was nearly as thrilling as the four to five chain emails I receive weekly from work colleagues that tell me unspeakable horror will befall me if I do not forward to 10 “lucky” “friends”.  This was almost as exciting as the day I received a paper prayer rug from a post office box calling itself “Saint Matthew’s Church.” The helpful letter told me I could use a placemat bearing Jesus’s face to pray for a car just like Jesus did when he fed the masses at Walmart.

Was my prayer answered?

Bingo.

This is the American Dream, my friends. Why just a mere two days ago, I was adrift.

Now I can go to some random mall parking lot, and insert a key with metal the consistency of a yogurt top, into an American Dream Machine™.

I wonder what it will be?

Could it be this, and then I could have a new profession of delivering prayer rugs and credit card applications to others?

Could it be a hog, and then I could have a legitimate midlife crisis a few years early?

Could it be a real hog?

Will it help me compensate for my unusually tiny penis?

Will it be a gas guzzler?

Will it even be a car??

So much incredibly urgent excitement.

Yes, I may soon be unemployed, but I will have a dope ride to park in the driveway when I stay inside and become the shape of a Reese mini egg due to the constant eating of said eggs.

You can have this too. Simply forward this to 10 friends or else the world will explode.

All the best,

Speaker7

A Pink Slip Isn’t Pink

So you’ve just been handed a letter. You may be confused at first. You thought pink slips were pink. That’s what television has taught you–that, and when you stand up to someone, someone else will inevitably start a slow clap, which builds to thunderous applause.

This slip is white, and it’s not a slip, but just a piece of high-end letterhead. Wait, shouldn’t we use random scraps of paper, preferably used coffee filters and toilet paper toss offs, especially since we are in a budget crunch? Let’s focus. The pinkish-hued white letter slip reads that your employer may not meet be able to meet its contractual obligation for the next school year with regard to your employment. Huh?

You might be fired.

Like this:

Oh, and I just bought a $702 toilet, you say. The man who gave you the letter looks at you strangely. You realize that wasn’t the response you wanted to give even though you did just purchase a $702 toilet.

These are bad economic times, and you are in a profession that many people think is irrelevant because of the Internet, so you knew this was coming. That doesn’t mean that you can’t handle the news with panache.

Here are 10,000 or maybe 6 (it depends on how tired I am and/or how much wine I drink) tips to follow when given a pinkish-hued white letter slip of laid-offness:

  • Try not to throw yourself on the ground and thrash about. This could cause rug burn or floor burn if your floor is sans rug. You might get a staple embedded in your back or someone’s toenail. Toenails fall off at an alarming rate. If you feel compelled to thrash, go outside and roll around in the grass, unless you’re wearing white. Who wears white after Labor Day? When can we wear white? The day before Labor Day, and then never again? So many questions. Look out for dog crap
  • Don’t cry. What are you John Boehner? He cries when he runs out of a tissues, which is hourly, friend. If you feel the tears brimming and the bottom lip shaking, excuse yourself by saying “Oh, I think a bee just flew up my nose” or “I just saw kids running” or “I just heard Danny Boy.” Whatever, just think of something to get you out of the room. “Hey everybody, half-priced toilets at Target! Let’s go!”
  • Sure it sucks, but this is not the time to tell the world what you think of it–that’s reserved for when you are delivering a drunken toast at a wedding. You’re still not technically fired so going through a bullet by bullet list of why the person who gave you the letter sucks bees is not the way to go–unless someone else is around to give the slow clap. Do anything and everything to get the slow clap.
  • Don’t post on Facebook that your boss is Satan. Yes, your boss is Satan but your future Satanic boss will ask you for your password to Facebook.
  • Do buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket. If you win $540 million, you can call anyone Satan.
  • Don’t plan a Twilight wedding and changed your surname to “Cullen”. This has nothing to do with this post, but in general, just don’t do it. The world thanks you.
  • Do use your laidoffness as an excuse to not do anything like cook. We’ve been eating out a lot, and it’s been fantastic.
  • Do plan for the future, e.g., I plan to drink this second glass of wine, cry while watching Dance Moms and pass out.

Slow clap.

Will Work For Job

I have a knack for entering a career at the exact moment that career begins to decline. I worked as a newspaper reporter in a bureau that currently no longer exists. I got out at the right time (after the second buyout and before the first furlough) to start my new career as a school librarian. Right around 2008. Something else happened in 2008….what was it? Hmm.

Oh right, the financial meltdown.

My school district is in a financial hole, my position is unmandated and my administrators (who make 4 to 5 times more than me) think “well, she just reads books to kids, couldn’t a toy monkey clanging cymbals together do that?” (Answer: yes)

So there’s a 110 percent chance I will be laid off the end of this school year.

Now I have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle, one where I can buy food and have shelter. You’re likely thinking “Speaker7, get off your high horse.”

So if I want to continue this lifestyle, I need to start planning for the future. Maybe I’ll open a bookstore, one that also sells CDs.

Don’t worry, I will let you know what I choose the moment I choose it so you can leave that career path immediately before it begins its inevitable decline.

Possible career paths

TV Loudmouth

There is a lot of money to be made in being loud and being on TV. The key is to say something really awful to get someone to pay attention to you, interview you and ask why you say such awful things to which you respond “Typical gotcha question from the liberal media elite.” Possible loudmouth scenario: “Bomb Cameroon! You heard me. Why? They’ve got gorillas. A gorilla once ignored me at the zoo even when I banged as hard as I could on the glass to get her attention away from nursing her baby–which is gross. Breastfeeding is child abuse and if you don’t do it, you are a monster, and if you do do it, you’re no better than a gorilla. What’s my point? My point is women are whores.”

Upside: Crazy uncles parroting my phrases at family gatherings. Coffee mugs with my name on them.

Downside: Having to live with myself.

Haberdasher

Look on any street corner and what do you see? Pawn shops and stores that buy gold. Okay, yes those, but look at some of the other storefronts. Tattoo parlors and furniture rentals. Yes, yes, but keep looking don’t you see that haberdasher shop? No.

Upside: Redemption. In high school, I tried to snag the part of the beloved haberdasher in  The Taming of the Shrew. The part had one line. This was the line: “Here is the cap your worship did bespeak.” I recited the line as if I was the top haberdasher in Verona. I didn’t get the part. The setting is Padua. Completely different haberdasher.

Downside: What is a haberdasher?

Child Star Manager

My 2-year-old son is very cute and game for anything. Me: “Want to go throw pinecones at a tree?” Him: “Yes.” Me: “Want to go throw pinecones at a bush?” Him: “Yes.” I taught him the infamous haberdasher line from The Taming of the Shrew and he totally nailed it.

Upside: Carvel Ice Cream card and other perks.

Downside: I love my son.

Public Librarian

I’ve already got the MLS–seems like a good transition if you discount the reduction in library aid, the zero job openings, and the patrons who only go to the library to look at porn.

Upside: Dewey!

Downside: The public. Cleaning up the public’s bodily fluids.

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