Friday, January 25, 2008

An Excerpt from Nickel and Dimed

An excerpt from Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich:

Friday evening: I’ve been in Minneapolis for just over fifteen hours, driven from the southern suburbs to the northern ones, dropped off a half a dozen apps [job applications], and undergone two face-to-face interviews. Job searches take their toll, even in the case of totally honest applicants, and I am feeling particularly damaged. The personality tests, for example: the truth is I don’t much care if my fellow workers are getting high in the parking lot or even lifting the occasional retail item, and I certainly wouldn’t snitch if I did. Nor do I believe that management rules by divine right or the undiluted force of superior knowledge, as the “surveys” demand you acknowledge. It whittles you down to lie up to fifty times in the space of fifteen minutes or so it takes to do a “survey,” even when there’s a higher moral purpose to serve. Equally draining is the effort to look both perky and compliant at the same time, for half an hour or more at a stretch, because while you need to evince “initiative,” you don’t want to come across as someone who might initiate something like a union organizing drive. Then there is the threat of the drug tests, hanging over me like a fast-approaching SAT. It rankles -- at some deep personal, physical level -- to know that the many engaging qualities I believe I have to offer -- friendliness, reliability, willingness to learn -- can all be trumped by my pee.

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