Labor Day at the Shrine of the Mists
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Labor Day 2011 Edition! Please pay attention, because Labor Day will soon be a thing of the past ... and so you should make the best of the ones remaining. What are they going to call Labor Day when there is no more organized labor? I'll tell you: Monday.
A disturbing trend has followed me since I left full-time employment at Gale Research Company in 1987. I have found that, whatever I job I do, I quickly find myself working much harder for less money.
When I first left Gale Research back in 1987, they paid me very well as an independent contractor. They were so doggoned glad to have a trained worker willing to forgo health benefits and vacation pay that, for a few years, I made good bread. But as the whole "independent contractor" thing got rolling, companies like Gale learned that there were so many people eager to do the work for less money -- people who had never had benefits in the first place -- that the wages began to fall. First by a little bit, then precipitously.
It wouldn't have helped me if I had stayed at Gale Research. In the mid-1990s they laid off a number of the people who started working there at the same time I did. And we won't even go into the fact that the company is selling far more product with far less quality than it did in the day.
When I entered public school teaching, I thought that I'd finally found a profession that would be somewhat immune to this trend. But this year I am taking a substantial pay cut, what with our governor's garnishing our wages for health care and pensions and our local district's cost-saving measures. At the same time, my class sizes have increased. Last year my largest class was 24. This year my smallest class is 25. I'm despairing over the task of meeting the individual learning needs of 162 students -- all while being observed in my so-called "tenure year."
This morning I spent a long time sitting in sage smoke, arranging rocks I brought from Polish Mountain onto the Shrine of the Mists. The bored gods who visit my shrine have seen it all: vain rulers who exploited their poor subjects, tribes of people who knew that teamwork and profit sharing were the best means of survival, little bands of hardy individuals who crept from place to place. And then there are the deities of the Celts -- a people who valued the middle class. Isn't it strange? I can feel some gods whispering, "Nothing has changed," and others saying, "Everything has changed."
Wish me good luck in a new year of work, as I do more for less pay. I'm not a novelty. I'm the face of modern America. Just one more pale face.