Inspired by Walter Blevins who became unemployed recently...

Best to YOU Walter and every other person out of a job for no fault of their own-- 


It was April of the year Y2K...

My salary was $34,000 per year which came to $653.85 per week before taxes; take home a bit over 500 per week. That take-home was exactly the same whether I put in 30 hours or 60 (much more often), direct deposited every Thursday at midnight. Not too very bad in those days, at least for a non-college-grad white punk on dope stuck somewhere between white collar and blue, like moi.

Still, supporting a wife and child, there was never much extra.

My boss was the owner of the company and suffered from some sort of bizarre bi-polar disorder-- that's my guess. Maniac-depressive- republicanism maybe? Who knows for certain.. all I knew was, he could switch moods in a hot flash. One moment telling jokes, a personality rich alpha-1 SOB, the next, dark and crass, paranoid- sometimes downright hateful and non-sensical.

Ever known one?

Start time was 7:45. Rest assured I was there on time, because he'd call at 7:46 without fail. 

The fact that he was at the home branch in Columbus, Ohio and us (me and Pete.. usually the only employees) in Kansas City, was a blessing most of the time. As long as those fabricated conveyor belts shipped on time, and without complaint from the customers, the psycho in Ohio was about three quarters happy.

He did afterall, deposit 5 to 20 grand each day (net) off our shop's production. That said production, more often than not was me, although sometimes I did have a hired helper. For a short while even two.

Blue thermoplastic conveyor belts with cogged plastic "v-guides" welded with a hot air "Leister" gun. Power-turn belts driven by stainless steel flex-chain; these went around corners and involved π formulas and such to fab... the receiving, the shipping, answering the phones-- sweeping floors to scrubbing toilet, all inclusive. 


"Leister gun" not for use as a hair dryer... believe me, I tried it



Pete did "sales" which consisted mostly of placating and butt-licking our largest customer, Tony's Pizza in Salina, Kansas. 


Evaluations, meaning to me, raises, were supposed to be yearly. I had four years in, and my last had been 17 months prior. 

Last month or so had involved preparing for, then moving, the shop to a different, slightly larger and nicer facility in the Fairfax industrial district near the new GM plant. All the regular full time duties, plus moving at night. This, as I said, a long process and it was beating me to hell. 

Pete, who was my friend and yet the.. kind of- boss in KC pulled me aside when the move was nearly complete.

"Randy said he's bumping you to 40k. Said to tell you job well done and apologies for the review delay."

Hmmm, I thought. May have been worth the wait.

Then, the day of the actual review, done by Pete, poor bastard. I could see nervousness in his downward shifting eyeballs as I walked into the office.


"Blah blah and yada yada... doing a fine job... BUT" 


"Well, there was that one time, 'bout six months ago..."

...when this or that non-optimal thing happened that was perceived to be my fault. Maybe it was, don't even remember the actual "incident" as it wasn't of much consequence, at that time at least.

But, did remember the old saw, "only takes one ut-oh to erase a year (or 17 months) worth of atta-boys." Uh-huh!

"The good news.. still putting you up to 36! Sign the review form here (pointing), and, there's a space for employee remarks... optional." 

He could see I was pissed. I asked for his pen, started writing in the employee remarks space.

Pete said "man, I wouldn't do that."

But I did. I do (did at least!) have a little bit of self-esteem and pride, and figured I'd been poofed.

Here I'd been doing 70 hours a week, on a salary. Even before the move drama, it was nearly every Saturday. Constantly on-call too for emergencies. My work ethic and finished products were stellar. Never off sick. The go to guy. My orders always shipped on time, and I knew the warped maniac in Ohio was banking... off my back (which I realized later is what he is S'POSED TO DO.. genius).

I wrote (something like), "Good to know that a man's word means not a damn thing. At least I now know where I stand in the eyes of the company" and etcetera. Then signed in a shitty scrawl...

Pete gave me a dark look. Wasn't his doing and I realized that.



Next day I was fired! Another duty delegated to Pete...

They didn't challenge the unemployment and I went to work immediately for good hourly cash in construction (while happily cashing those U/E checks). This was, remember, at the end of the Clinton administration when the national debt was zero.. a surplus even.

Boom times.

I was actually better off.

Jobs were a dime a dozen, but this would be my last as someone elses faithful employee. 

Looking back, it really, really was... the good old days. Now... well, you know how it is now. I wonder how many PHD's would stand in line today for "the opportunity."

Maybe Mittens Romney can turn it all around for us... ha.. snort.. choke. 


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