Well, it seems the Delta variant of Covid-19 is going to force many workplaces and school districts to resort back to remote work and distance learning in the upcoming weeks. And I’m almost certain we’re seeing the end of the rat race over the next 15-20 years.
While those who work in food service and other industries, such as manufacturing and factory jobs will still have to get up every morning and report to a building, lesser people will have to spend hours and miles on both their road and their bodies to be able to work.
The same is for our education system. How much longer can we really ask taxpayers to keep paying more and more for brick and mortar buildings that become outdated after 25-30 years. I graduated 24 years ago from high school. The building and middle school where I went were torn down in 2013 as a new facility was built in its place.
The elementary school was also torn down last year, after being closed for many years and used as an alternative learning facility. School buildings not only have to be closed. They have to be demolished. In many ways, it’s cheaper to raze them and build another one elsewhere rather than spend more money to update a building that was around since the Teapot Dome Scandal.
And part of the reason these buildings still exist is because some old codgers, who mostly don’t even pay the school taxes, raise hell about the possibility of them being torn down in the first place. They want their great-grandchildren going to the same schools they went to. With less Xers and Millenials having children, it’ll come down to schools realizing how much room they need for a drop in enrollment.
And I know it’s Friday Night Football season, but how many more parents are going to let their children get injured at the age of 16 for some silly district title that won’t mean anything 10 years later.
We’ll still have teachers, but I seriously doubt expecting them to dole out the same busywork and standardized testing won’t be around much longer. For a generation raised under the failure of No Child Left Behind, they’re not just old enough to vote now, but old enough to run for elected offices. And I seriously doubt many of them will have such wonderful things to say about NCLB.
The problem is our education system was never really for the children. We set the hours of operation based on the adult’s schedule. And we set the format based on a system in which at least two-thirds of each graduating class would go on to the American workforce the Monday after graduation.
As for the workforce, remote work is the wave of the future whether we like it or not. As a former journalist, I often worked outside the office. You have to when you’re covering meetings, but most people don’t return phone calls when you’re in the office, so you’re calling people on your cell phones and checking e-mails in the evening.
Part of the reason, I hate high school football now is my former employee expected people to write and report updates during games as well as immediately dropping a story late on a Friday night, even if it was near midnight. Sometimes it was after midnight. This was a frustrating job to do and even harder to delegate if someone was covering for you.
While I agreed with updating scores and a few stats with photos, it became harder by the time I had hurt my back. That was in the winter of 2011 when a blizzard left me at the house for a week, unable to get out. The storm shut down a lot of the area. I still managed to work from home and update the website and social media with stories.
I had also committed the cardinal sin of working at a small-town newspaper. I didn’t live close enough. You will not believe how many old time publishers and supervisors expect everyone to work basically five feet from the office. It’s not worth the pay and it’s not worth the effort.
So, it’s no wonder many younger people turned their backs on journalism and went to public relations which paid more generally.
And let me tell you, I had recently moved into my house a few months prior to getting the job. It was only a 15-minute drive into the office. But for the publisher, who could afford to live wherever he wanted, that was too far away.
Unfrotunately, that’s been the problem for many people over the years. They either are expected to live so close to work or they have to commute and spend most of their free time on the road to and from their workplace.
People get up at 5 a.m. to leave their house by 6:15 a.m. so they can be at their job by 7:50 a.m. so they can rush from the parking area to their work building so they can clock in just at 8 a.m. And worse, they have to deal with anal retentive people who are saying they’re “almost late” by five minutes, which means they’re actually early by five minutes. If you’re one of two minutes late, someone in management will get mad, even though you’re only getting 59 minutes for lunch, not an hour. And you probably don’t get 15-minute breaks anymore.
How much longer were employers expecting people to put up with this?
People can’t take bathroom breaks when they have to go. They can’t even go to the bathroom to throw up when they’re sick. A few years ago, an employee at a Subway in Texas (Big Surprise!) was struggling with a stomach virus and not only was she handling food, but she couldn’t leave work without getting a replacement.
I’ve been there myself where if you have a sick day, you pay for it with being read the Riot Act. This is basically slavery without the physical abuse (even though I’m sure some supervisors and managers wished they could get hit their employees with impunity). On the flip side, I’ve had some supervisors and other co-workers who would’ve gotten a nice punch in the mouth for what they’ve said.
This brings me to my next point. Many supervisors and workers are practically useless or their only function is intimidation. We’ve gotten to a point in our society where we’re micromanaged everything.
In 2004, I went in for a job interview at a newspaper in another town. I noticed that while the managing editor had an office, the news editor, who’d be my immediate supervisor had her desk located in the center of a U-shape of desks. While this was a major fire hazard, because she had to turn sideways to to go to her desk, it was also a telling reason why there was a job opening. The editor had to be directly near the other reporters at all times.
And I had been in a situation like that while I was working in Americus. The managing editor had an office, but spent most of her time in the newsroom, a few feet from us. We also had to tell her where we were going even when we were going on assignments that she had sent us on. I can not begin to tell you how many reporter notebooks I went through just leaving a note on where I was going when she wasn’t in the building.
Then, she’d come up with story ideas after we’d been at work seven or eight hours and ready to go. I’m not talking about breaking news. But these were story ideas that could very easily be held off until the next edition. So we’d pull in overtime and then they’d get mad at us for working overtime.
My maternal grandfather had to have his ring and pinky finger amputated and half of his middle finger following an accident. When he tried to apply for disability, he was told he could still find a job somewhere as a manager telling people what to do. But who wants to work for someone who doesn’t do anything but tell people what to do, my mom said.
But a lot didn’t get that memo. There’s too many Bill Lumberghs walking around office buildings and all they’re doing is interferring with their workers’ time and only making them work just enough not to get fired.
During the Great Recession, the newspaper company I worked for hired a “consultant,” who basically did nothing more than go around to all the other newspapers “suggesting” and “advising” that stories needed to be written differently and we needed to dig deeper for gritty stories. I came to find out that he had been shit-canned from his previous job in the latter part of 2008 and was friends and former colleagues with one of the company’s owners and got the “consultant” job so he could pay his bills while he looked for elsewhere.
Many of the people were happy to see him go.
I also heard of other managers in other departments who acted like Kevin Spacey’s character in Horrible Bosses, having their employees do their work. And I’ve been down that road myself. Back to the job in Americus, Ga., it seemed since I was the youngest, I always was expected to pick up the slack.
The problem is too many Boomers have often criticized workers by saying, “A job’s a job.” Well, a job in a toxic environment is still a job in a toxic environment. It usually leads to a lot of turnovers. And a company with a lot of turnovers is not a company many people want to work for anymore.
I’m glad people in their 20s and 30s are throwing up their hands and saying, “Fuck this shit!” They’re calling them the “Resignation Generation.”
If people can work remotely, we should let them. Do these employers actually think they are not going to do their work and still expect their paycheck? It’d be saving the companies a lot of money on overhead expenses to have the bare minimum office space that’s needed. People could save money on gasoline and the wear and tear of their vehicles.
Also, people who have the skills would be more beneficial to companies than people who have the money but only part of the skills to work.
Riddle me this, Batman: Why do people need to wear dress clothes and ties when they’re working in office settings interacting with only other workers?
If someone wears a Tom Ford dress shirt and J. Crew tie with Dockers dress pants to work, what the hell is the matter how they dress if they’re always behind on their projects and assignments?
We’re too busy associating “attractive people”, “healthy looking people”, and “nice and expensive clothes” with hard work that we’re overlooking the skills of people who don’t look like Abercrombie & Fitch models.
Being someone who’s big, I know my appearance has been used against me on job interviews. Also, being someone who walks with a cane, companies are looking not to hire people they will have to adhere to ADA standards to the fullest of the letter.
But people with limited mobility can still work from home. Despite what people might think, a lot of people with physical disabilities actually want to work to make money.
So, you’re expected to buy clothes for a job, but you don’t have the money to buy clothes, so you can’t get the job. It’s goes back to the saying that “People are too poor to work.” They can’t afford the gas to drive 50-150 miles back and forth to work every day for five days. They can’t afford to spend $300-500 on clothes so they can dress to the supervisors’ satisfaction. And they can’t afford to up and move to a job that’s closer.
Believe me as someone who used to be in middle-management, some applicants look good on paper but aren’t so good when they look at all the job duties they’re expected versus their pay. And others who are more qualified are only looking for a temporary job until they can find something better.
Less vehicles on the road will cause less traffic delays and less accidents. Air pollution will go down. People won’t have to spend a lot of their paychecks just on money to get back and forth to work. Carpooling only works in theory.
But no one wants to be practical. At least for now. With more people who can work remotely doing it, it would solve more problems.
But when eletricity was first introduced, the lamb lighters resisted.
Recently, Steven Spielberg signed a partnership with Netflix. Only a few years ago, Spielberg and other filmmakers were very critical of streaming services and I can understand their arguments.
But when the theaters closed due to Covid, streaming became important. People don’t have small TV sets, but big 50-inch TVs. They can watch movies in their homes and pay a streaming service subscription for one month that is a fraction of what it costs to pay a movie theater ticket, gasoline, possible babysitter or child care.
People always resist when someone affects the normal way of doing things, or should I say, the way they prefer things to be done. Times change. People change. Priorities change.
The ironic part is the same people putting up the most resistance are the ones who laid the foundations for all this to happen.