Water Finds Its Own Level

Only in America is free time frowned upon. No matter how deserved. Anytime I read or hear about a cubicle slave or some other automaton bound to his/her job by invisible chains, I say, “Poor sap.”

Where else but America do workers “brag” about their unused vacation days? Of course, where else but here do employers also grudge awarding those days which have been earned?

Deferring purchases is often wise. Deferring vacation days robs our humanity.

If off from work, laboring Americans unburdened by time clocks or toil find the idle hours strangely confusing. We are so conditioned to be doing something during our waking hours. Preferably something constructive.

Incredibly, now more so than when I lived back East, I take greater enjoyment in the days away from work out West. Probably because Nevada is a “right to work” state. A contradiction most of those it burdens just don’t get.

At its most debilitating, it’s the kind of law that stunts efforts towards collective bargaining. Slice it however, bosses have the upper hand. In theory, employees and employers have the same leverage regarding employment. “For cause” which is just an easy way of an employer dismissing an employee for specious reason; or the employee who’s found a better place and can leave minus any notice.

Like too many theories, real life smacks against this one.

In Nevada as in any right to work state, employers don’t mind treating their human assets cavalierly. The hourly and salaried know this. They act accordingly. Even if they’re being maltreated, in whom and where do they find redress? While there’s no shortage of ambulance chasing lawyers in Nevada, few in the legal profession till in the groves of workers’ rights.

Unless the matter involves an on-job injury, employer negligence, a settlement from a work-related mishap, or assuring the client receives the highest workman’s compensation possible, next to nobody who’s hung a legal shingle in the Silver State will bother fighting for a working person’s dignity. For that a laboring man or woman needs belonging to a union.

Otherwise, you’re an individual at the mercy of capricious employers. So, yes, again in theory, employees share equal leverage as employers. However, few working people are so farsighted to have a spot ready to land in after bailing.

And as common sense should inform, it’s easier finding another paycheck when you’re already getting one. Cashing one after you’ve quit the prior post because of any reason introduces what could become a Sisyphean challenge towards achieving the new payday.

One almost feels the simmering seething in the superficially polite people engaged in their hourly or salaried tasks. It’s tough sympathizing with any. A vantage of having grown up in a union home then having the honor of oneself becoming a union member. Nothing beats being a dues paying union man who can speak his mind when truly aggrieved.

Or best, have advocates whose voices carry greater force to those across the desk.

No. Not just bitching after being red-assed. If you’ve messed up and been called on account for it, tough. Take it. Be better in the future to avoid further such instances.

Or griping. Gripes? Those aren’t the job. Those bubble up from the employee. Who doesn’t know every job has its occasional downsides? Work through them, around them, past them. However. Put them behind you.

Yet there do arise legitimate annoyances at work which need addressing for them to be redressed. It was second nature back East. Certainly, in our nation’s mature industrial precincts this remains common habit. So common I wouldn’t have acknowledged this until relocating to Nevada where it’s fairly absent.

In the Silver State, blue/pink collars are disadvantaged in volleys with white collars.

Seeing how American labor is devolving, what workplace gains aren’t working people today not on pace to surrender? For that hourly and too many salaried employees can thank or curse Ronald Reagan. As president, the Gipper decertified PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.

A former union leader himself, the Hollywood turncoat’s betrayal signaled CEOs, CFOs, and corporate board members throughout America that government had thrown working people to the wolves. And corporate America knowing pork chops were on the plate has gorged accordingly.

Worse than the clawbacks, though, were industries’ shedding of retirement obligations to retired workers. That two-way street my parents saw as Holy Grail got reconfigured into a one-lane highway. Gone was the bargain which established and maintained America’s uninterrupted industrial might for the longest: good wages, generous benefits in return for manufacture of the highest quality products. And should employees have turned the millstone long enough to let shareholders have drawn deeply from the wells of wealth, grudgingly benevolent employers would help succor them after their productive years through pension payments.

This country is one generation closer to seeing pensions as fairy tales. Especially once today’s young and vibrant realize only themselves have been responsible for provisioning their own post-productive years.

About two decades ago, I chatted with a banker. She had one major regret with our education system. In high schools, finances and investing were completely neglected topics.

She saw the future for unprepared working people after they aged out. It was merciless.

The push for individual retirement plans eliminated company pension schemes. Which is shorthand for saying people unversed in money matters would be pigeons when it came to unscrupulous financial advisors and money managers.

Didn’t even take cresting into “Golden Years” for the above to occur. Just look at the young hordes now mired in college student loan debt.

They won’t be purchasing new cars every three years. They won’t be buying houses and watch these appreciate in order to set the basis for generational wealth. They won’t be investing for now or the future. They will be in persistent hock, leading lives as two-legged hamsters on increasingly accelerating wheels.

Hey. That was rather bleak.

Know why all those old-time consumer items were so durable? The people making them understood slipshod goods jeopardized their wages as well as perks. No one on any assembly line chose putting together substandard products. It was corporate decisions which introduced planned obsolescence. Afterwards those same executives turned backs on America altogether by deciding to offshore production.

The last further plumped bottom lines, yes. Okay. Fine. But it also sped contraction of the middle class. Limiting our nation’s manufacturing capacity and capabilities was short-sighted. It made America vulnerable to key component shortages. Microchips anybody?

Today in Nevada, only casino employees bear anything close to an even hand when dealing with management. Even then not every hotel/casino time-clock puncher benefits from organized labor’s efforts. Particularly the off-Strip establishments.

Here in the Mojave what worker’s most righteous beef isn’t nearly presented with regret? As if the complainant becomes a supplicant trying not to tremble too hard before a boss, manager, or supervisor mistaken as the O Great, Mighty, All-Powerful Oz.

Deference to any kind of authority so strong in this desert, witnessing wrongly acted against underlings press their cases while simultaneously walking these back from the poobah no longer boggles the mind.

Yeah. That’s how well business opposites know their roles in Nevada.

What proceeds is akin to bad kabuki.

After the contention – and here it is contention, not confrontation – has been resolved, usually to the complainant’s disfavor, he or she slumps back to other maltreated malcontents. Among this collective, he or she shares his or her tale of familiar woe.

Listening closely, one hears same tales whose impatient banality and resultant dismissiveness can infer harmful consequences if pressed too hard. Wonderful aspect of our imaginations. The unknown behind the closed door can provide greater fright than monsters before us.

This and creaking floorboards. Branches scraping against windows. Loudly dripping faucets or ticking clocks. Startling sudden knocks on doors. Shrieking violins. While none of these simple atmospherics surpasses the gore splattering throughout current horror films, the suggestiveness ignites our fight or flee instincts more than the obvious incipient mayhem of Jason, Freddy, or Michael Meyers.

Consciously or not, anticipating the worst and their own lack of surefootedness can and do dispirit Las Vegas employees most effectively. At least from what I’ve seen and heard here.

Living vicariously through a movie character pursued through a dark house is perversely entertaining. Overstepping dubiously defined employee-management bounds and risking a job and the predicaments that entails can truly frighten. As it should.

Shaky as the employee’s ground was, he or she stood it – until they toppled themselves. Anger that ought have flowed earlier arrives later among the safety of colleagues also having left meekly after their own endurances in some boss’ crucible. These outcomes seldom deviate. The headman is mollified. That hardly settles the matter but ends it. The can is kicked down the road. Or the can is kicked to the curb. Either way increases the impotence of the frustrated.

All within the circle know the feeling. None can offer any solution to it. Or doesn’t dare find a solution. Maybe that’s their greatest irritation of all.