Tuesday, January 22, 2008

invisible


For the better part of five years, I have been fairly invisible in the fair mother city. This is fine. I like this. A lot.

Some things, like my re-emerging music act makes me quite visible. And after the last five years, this is new. So, I’m not totally unnoticed these days.

I think what I like about being on the invisible side is meeting other invisible folks.

Currently, I am working a temp job that has me moving heavy stuff at a local hospital and storing it across town. I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the hospital with Obi-Wan last year. But back then I was a visitor of a patient. Now I am kin to a low-level employee. I never noticed the hierarchy culture that exists with hospital employees.

I mean, being a grungy, scraggly grunt with a two-wheeler dolly doesn’t bother me. It’s great undercover practice.

You can instantly tell who the important people are: various doctors, name-badged managers of various departments and such. They never look you in the eye when passing.

But the $5.50 an hour* Mexican ladies that clean rooms – they always flag me down, ask how the day is going, and direct me to the lesser-known break room where the good coffee is brewed.

And then there was the maintenance guy. He came over - name patch, plumbers crack, whole nine yards – and talked to me about the service elevator I was operating. He was surprised it still worked. We talked mechanics for about a minute.

The lower caste groups of the hospital employee system: they’re like a confederation or something. And funny thing is that I’m working for an outside company, not the hospital.

Finally, there was the couple I was in music school with fifteen years ago. They walked right by as I nervously waited for eye contact while figuring out what my response would be to the inevitable “what are you doing here?” as I hand-trucked heavy items down wide hallways. Maybe their peripheral vision told them I was in the lower caste society. Maybe they were very preoccupied as they WERE in a hospital, like maybe a family member was ill.

I like being invisible. There’s no masks to keep up with.


*Not an exaggeration. This is the actual pay, according to a hospital employee a year ago

**I would love to leave credit to the photo, but I can't figure out who made it...

10 comments:

Leanne said...

Try working at a Christian Univ., B. The caste system there would blow your mind. Or maybe, it would just confirm things for you.

People are so freaking stupid.

That Girl said...

Yeah, but some of us WILL look you in the eye. Even though we wear the suits.

Beth said...

When I was in seminary, one day at the beginning of a class the professor, who was this amazing African-American pastor, asked "How many of you know the names of the janitors in this building?" We all looked totally blank. He said, "You people think you want to be PASTORS, and you don't even know the names of the janitors in this building?"

Anonymous said...

B,

I am coming to A-town tomorrow.

Do you have my email address?

Lost your contact info. Contact me if you can. I will be at Almost Christian U finishing an appt at noon. If all else fails and you wish to connect, seek me in the campus center shortly after that appt.

Later,

X.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

Ah the caste system. Yes indeed.

Here's what I learned in my former life as a chef - my 'cover' if you will.

A good restaurant - and I do mean the really, really good ones - can go three months without a chef before the customers notice. It can go one month without a sous-chef before the customers notice, though it will only last one week without a first cook before the complaints appear. But go one Friday night without a dishwasher and all hell breaks loose.

The dishwashers, of course, are the lowest paid, have no benefits and are often replaced on a whim.

And, oh yeah, the servers - those who "serve" others - work for tips.

This is our world.

Leanne said...

Beth nailed it.

vonelsk said...

My fellow suppressed people of the “not so fair mother city”

3 years ago we moved here, with my wife grew up here is why we came. Paid for the house we live in with cash, paid off all our debts, and took a vacation. When we came back I had a great deal in another state to make big cash working on software so I left again.

Once I had to stay and work here it became clear that the actual truth of this town was we have just two classes, the haves and the have not.

2 years have gone by now, looking for a job in various industries in town. This I thought would yield a good solid wage with a couple of degrees and many years of experience behind me.

Interviews and how they went.

A couple of hospitals- One engineering firm, one machine shop, Software company, Insurance company, Bail bonds, - all have around the same responses

The interviewer,
Gee umm we would like to have you on our team and start Monday.
Me,
That is great, by the way how much does it pay
The interviewer,
I can see you getting paid around 8.00 per hour (I grumble) well the most I can start you out at is 9.75 an hour. (((How can you jump 1.75 an hour from a grumble)))
Me,
you have got to be kidding me, that is like 962.00 after taxes a month, I can make that at Mc Donald’s, How can you justify paying your employees so little
The Interviewer,
This is a set wage we pay all new employees and only hire from within.
Me,
So how much do you pay your DB admin and the other internal sources?
The Interviewer,
Well someone with your experience knowledge of the applications we have now, plus the specialty apps like payroll and HR, Well, we pay the guy that does that now 40K a year and he has been here for 20 years.
Me,
So what you’re telling me is that you’re not aloud to pay any new employee more than 10 an hour
The interviewer,
Just between you and I “Yes”
Me,
Thank you for your candidness about this issue, however with your hospital charging a big city price on all procedures and the amount of elderly citizens pumping government moneys in the revenue cycle, plus the simple fact that your obviously being told that you will not pay employees more that X by an outside source. I refuse to let my family starve while you work me 60 hours a week, strip off any OT, leave me uninsured for a year, pay increases of cent’s rather than dollars. I can not see me coming to work for an unfair establishment such as yours.


This same thing in not the same words took place with a different manager at the same hospital a year later. This is sad and most horrible thing to live with.

First hand,
After watching the same business owners that would not pay more than 10 an hour over my 13 weeks of free labor as an apprentice,

It was clear as they all dropped 1200-5000 on multiple pairs of shoes. That is was greed and the deliberate acts to suppress the have not group into a control group (just like a science project). They all are members of the City councils, Police department heads, heads of the collages, Owners of Hospitals and clubs, ranch owners, ETC, an the one thing they all share is a elite membership to the COC (at a certain church location)

I have seen first hand that - COC is evil and has a very ruthless and dastardly group of people attending.
They cut each others throats over pennies; keep the wage down with the help of the City council. If someone is luckily enough to get out of that hole they dug, high taxes and the over priced goods in this town see to any extra you saved. Plus the “Storm Troopers APD” will be called in to find a way to take what the previous has not.

IF WE THE PEOPLE OF ABILENE ALL STAND UP AND STAGE A NON-WORK DAY AT THE SAME TIME SPANNING A WEEK.

The possibility of national news coming in an influencing this unfair town into a fair one might be attainable. Plus the best way to hurt a have is to hit the pocket book.

Agent B said...

Wow. You actually told off a local interviewer (or 2) during an interview? Impressive.

Much respect.

vonelsk said...

Agent B,
Yes multiple Interviewers and a couple of owners.

I must return that respect to you Agent B for having a place for comments that can be seen by the world’s eyes.

The effort you put into making a voice heard

Time you spend giving back to the community that neglects those in need outside the circle.

Much respect
Vaughn

Agent B said...

Very kind of you Vaughn.

I don't think that many people pay attention to blogs. Especially this one.

So it goes.