Workin’ On a Chain Gang
It’s called “Human Resources,” and it’s a sort of slave trade that I was involved in for many years.
Per Webster’s Ninth:
.......Human: 1: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of man
.......2: consisting of men 3: having human form or attributes.
.......(Hmmmm….. WOMEN are not mentioned by Webster…)
.......Resources: 1: a source of supply or support; an available means
.......2: a natural source of supply or revenue 3: an ability to meet
.......and handle a situation (I left out some obviously irrelevant
Loosely translated, then, my job was to find creatures having human form, who had some ability to meet and handle a particular job situation. Most of the jobs paid low on the wage scale and did not require any formal education beyond high school. My tasks were to advertise and recruit, phone screen, test for physical ability to do the work (eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills), interview and then offer employment (or a plausible excuse for not hiring), and make appropriate job placements.
I flew by the seat of my pants, not having any actual training or experience in H.R., frustrated (or, conversely, buoyed up) by the fact that the ideal candidate hardly ever existed. The goal was to hire the best available, and when you met the range of possibilities, "best available" sometimes became clear by elimination of whom you would NOT want to hire. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, but sometimes it resembled the physician’s creed: First do no harm - don't hire the alcoholic, the violent, the irresponsible, the crook.
During those years I met some noble, hard-working, good people. I also met some of the scum of the earth. I met the working poor – people who will struggle all their lives at pay rates below a living wage. I met people down on their luck (often perennially). In total, these folks were the Americans vying with their unfortunate Chinese or Mexican counterparts to produce the lowest cost electronic toys we all love and want.
My work was not without joys and satisfactions. A job of any kind can be the leg up a person needs, it can be the first step to exiting a bad marriage, the extra money to see a family through a rough patch. It can help define a career, a path in life. A job – even a low-wage, entry-level job - can bring self-confidence and a sense of pride for some people. I offered an opportunity to men and women who had few such; not a great opportunity, but a first (or sometimes last) chance to get on the ladder and start moving up.
This is the context of my next few posts. They are going to be stories from the interviewer's side of the desk, stories I could never invent. The first one begins above this post.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Workin’ On a Chain Gang
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Let's Go Canoeing!
Soon well-fed and back in the canoe, we surprised a muskrat. (You can just see his head near the center of the next photo).
Tired - and noting the sun's position - we turned around, smiling at the knowledge that the rest of the trip would be downstream and with the wind at our backs,
I hope you have enjoyed our paddle. Thanks for keeping your weight centered and not tipping us over!
Posted by Judy on Thursday, September 06, 2007