Thursday, March 28, 2013

Give it up, you'll never be able to get a decent job, there is no place for you in our society, it's hopeless

Hi all (by all I mean, like, next to nobody).

This started out as an email and developed into a blog post.  I was reading an article my sister sent me.  And here's the article:

It was a good article--except for the part where the author said that lots of people with asthma work.  I spent a month having an asthma attack this winter, during which time I was definitely unable to work.  For the first couple of weeks I would have been unable to even get myself ready to go to work, and for the next couple of weeks I still wouldn't have been able to walk from my car to my hypothetical job.  I'm happy for people who can take a couple of puffs of an inhaler and go on with their lives.

But I try not to obsess over things like that.

I think the author, Mr. Joffe-Walt, has hit, in a tangential sort of way, on part of the reason for our society's economic problem.

Our standards for being an employable have gone way up over the last fifty years.

It used to be easier to get a job.  If you were Mr. Joe Farmer and you wanted to provide for your family, common knowledge was all you needed.  Most people knew enough about animal husbandry and planting a crop and food preservation to get the job done.  Anything you didn't know, somebody around you probably did.  You didn't need a degree, and you didn't have to fill out an application.  And if you wanted to start a career as a blacksmith, for example, you might be able to get an apprenticeship.

You didn't even have to know how to read.

It's different now.

It's partly an intelligence issue.  And we as a society are completely unwilling to address this.  Half of our population has IQs under 100.  Some of us can't read and write, or can't read and write well.  And for some of us, no amount of education is going to change that.  And we need to find a place for those of us who, through no fault of their own, are not going to succeed in the workforce as it is now.

A single person who wants to make enough money to have a decent life--an apartment, a car, utilities, maybe some decent clothes and furniture and an occasional meal out or a movie--is going to have to get a college education (unless they get very lucky).  Even an individual who belongs to a couple who, between the two of them, want to make enough money to survive, is going to have to be able to fill out a job application, and is probably going to have to be able to type up a resume, and some of us just can't do it.

(And don't get me started on the paperwork in our society right now, in every aspect of life, not just job-hunting.)

Farming is a good example.  It isn't what it used to be.  You have to have a big tractor, and keep up with the EPA regulations, and do a lot of paperwork.  It's not just the back-breaking labor of digging in the dirt any more.  Manufacturing jobs are paying a lot less than they used to, and requiring a resume or job experience to begin with.  Almost any decent job requires education and previous work experience.

If you have an IQ of 110, you can probably do reasonably well in school, and go to college, and enter the work force having a little job experience, and you might make it.  Your  parents probably made it, because there's a (dare I say it?) strong hereditary component to IQ.  So you have their shoulders to stand on.

If your IQ is 90, well....

So there are a whole lot of people out there who would be happy to work if only they qualified, but they have no hope of doing so.

And then, in this dismal economy, employers don't have to be the nicest people.  Let's face it, it's always been this way to some extent.  If you're making $100,000 a year, your employer is statistically likely to be a lot nicer.  People making $10,000 a year often get treated like dirt.  Having had many different jobs over the years, I can attest to this personally.  There are two very different worlds out there, one world where you wear nice clothes and eat out for lunch and get treated with respect, and another world where people are a lot less educated and polite and where you'd better learn your place very quickly.  You shut up, keep your head down, and do as you're told.

Add to that the proliferation of two-employee families with children (not that I want to pass a law against that (shudder)), and you have another problem.  An employer who insists you can only accrue sick days at one day a month (and vacation days might be a thing of the past).  Once you have children, somebody has to take care of them when they're sick, take them to appointments, etc.  Maybe you don't make any appointments you don't have to.  And heaven help you if you get sick.  A bad case of the flu that takes you out for a week or two may very well cost you your quite-undesirable-but-very-necessary-minimum-wage-without-benefits job.  And good luck getting another one after you've got that blot on your record.  And these people are not generally understanding if you have to leave work at five to go to a night class....

And if I'm right it's just going to get worse.  Life is not showing any signs of getting less complicated.

Now if only I knew how to fix this....

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I'm back.

Hi.  Sorry I haven't posted lately.

A few days after my last post, my mother passed away.

And I simply haven't wanted to talk about it.  Then I found myself having my usual monthly weekend off (my husband has Guard duty), and for some reason I read a few of my old posts and decided to come back.

I've seriously gotten tired of posting about being sick and filling out paperwork, but I saw that I'd posted a lot of other 'stuff', and a lot that I would like to preserve, if only for my own children or grandchildren some day.  It's also been a good record of my medical problems.

It was a good funeral, if a funeral can be said to be good.  Everything went well.  I got to meet some people I hadn't seen in many years.  My sister did an excellent job of covering for me--I'd been worried about failing to recognize people I was supposed to recognize. (I was kind of dreading it--having to try to function around a bunch of people I'm supposed to know and offending half of them.)  She was great at, "Oh, hi Jane!"  I spent a lot of time near her.

It was actually the most socialization I've had in a long time.

The day my mother died was the worst day of my life so far.  At least I was healthy.  It doesn't help to have to worry about being sick, or recognizing people, or finding the funeral home, while you're dealing with something like this.  And me being more distractable than usual is not a pretty picture.  It takes a fair amount of concentration to be me.  One 'good' thing about having just experienced a death in the family--if you do anything stupid, people just assume you've been overcome with grief and forgive you unconditionally.

And our tax return came just a couple of days before.  It's sad, but I'd been a little worried that none of us had appropriate clothing to wear for a funeral, and that we'd have to ask somebody to give us money so we could buy some.  Not to mention money for gas to drive back and forth to town several times.

It's amazing how having a little money in the bank can make life a little easier to cope with.

And I got to meet my mother's sister, who I haven't met since I was seventeen--thirty years ago.  We really hit it off.  And I learned something--she has what she calls an 'all-faiths' altar at her house.  Somewhat like my (somewhat) jokingly labeled practice of 'Eclecticism' these days.  We had a wonderful time getting to know each other.  She lives far away.  She's just spent the last several years taking care of my grandmother, who recently passed away.

I am now considering an 'all-faiths' altar.

I have to mention the morning after the funeral.  My aunt, my sister and I, and my four daughters and my sister's daughter were at my father's house.  The men had gone to get some things from the funeral home.  It was time to go through my mother's jewelry box.  So my sister set everything out, and we took turns choosing pieces.  My aunt had wanted one piece for her 'altar' (which had prompted me to question her later about her religious practices).  After a few turns, we also let the granddaughters start taking turns.  When it was all gone, my sister actually offered me the jewelry box.  She's going to get it repaired and restored.  I think the main reason she did that was because I still remembered the song it used to play many years ago.  I'm not actually sure that's such an incredible feat--any more than recognizing a cousin you haven't seen in twenty years.  I've been trying to find out what song it was for a while now, with no luck.

It was very much like a second funeral, a religious experience.  People were impressed that my sister and I got along so well.  Really, getting along with her isn't any great accomplishment--it's easy.

I've been talking to my sister and father every day since my mother was in the hospital.  I used to talk to my mother every day.  When you don't have very many people in your life, those few you do have become so very important.  I'm lucky that my immediate family is made up of decent, kind-hearted people.  Everybody isn't that fortunate.

Let's see--I've also been to my Social Security hearing.  It went pretty well.  The lawyer hadn't really expected it to, but the judge did seem to be impressed.  I think I might have somehow managed to come across as credible.  Must have been because I was telling the truth.  Social Security has lost all my records concerning why I was booted off in 2006, which looked kind of funny, too.

Anyway, the judge did treat me with respect.  She did ask me several questions repeatedly, and I'm fairly sure she was trying to 'trip me up'.  Of course, it's easy to keep your story straight when you're telling the truth.  It was as if she was trying to get me to answer differently at one point, and I almost got frustrated, as in, 'no, I told you it was this way.'  I've always admired people who can communicate so well.  She would have been a formidable person to argue with.

The vocational rehabilitation specialist was asked by the judge what kind of jobs I could do, and how many days I could miss.  She seemed to think I would miss too many days if I were working.  I'll have to try not to get my hopes up--I've already referred to this as 'a dress rehearsal for the next hearing'.

It would have been more difficult for me to talk about everything that is 'wrong' with me even a few years ago.  It's still unnerving, being in front of a judge and a court reporter and a vocational rehabilitation specialist.  But I've really been developing an attitude lately about having to apologize for why I am the way I am.  I'm getting to be a lot more likely to declare that I won't attempt to do something that I know is going to be extremely difficult.  I insist that I'm not going to improve any more than I have--and at forty-seven it does indeed seem ridiculous to expect much improvement when I've been trying for so long.  Maybe if I had expert guidance I could improve some.

And, of course, I'd be happy to stop getting sick if I could.  In fact, right now I'm still trying to decide whether or not I'll develop an ear infection (in my left ear as usual) from running errands the other day when it was windy.  Maybe I should root for another infection--the Social Security people would like that.  Anyway, I'm also getting to be a lot more likely to insist that I need to rest, or slow down, when I'm sick.

When I was reading old blog posts yesterday, I came across one from January of this year, where I wrote about coming down with the flu and going to my parents' house, going shopping at Wal-Mart, going out to eat, then driving home (in terrible weather), hauling wood, and then the next day hauling more wood and taking care of all the pets (in case I ended up in the hospital), and then going to the emergency room.  I have to ask myself--am I nuts?  Really?  I had a temp, and this horrible flu, but I just drank four Mountain Dews and kept right on going.  At least until I got back from the ER, when I finally collapsed.

And some people think I'm being lazy when I say I can't go on any more?

And (subject change warning) I was talking to my sister today and remembered an incident that I think helped my husband to understand why I'm struggling with so many neurological issues.

My husband was showing me how to run a new push mower.  He was telling me about the red button on the left of the mower that I was to push several times to prime the engine.  And then he stopped.  And asked me if I was going to look at what he was showing me.  And I said no.  I was concentrating on remembering what he was telling me.  There was no point trying to remember the picture.

Nothing wrong with my memory--I still remember where the button was.  Just don't remember what the mower looked like.  Or my husband.

Well, that's it for now.  We're expecting 4-8 inches of snow tomorrow.  I'll try to blog sooner next time!