Let me get out my little violin for the public workers who can’t do their job cause they’re not getting paid enough…

I got so sick the other day – my husband and I were doing a drywall repair and I forgot to wear a mask. Just a few minutes in that plaster dust made my sinuses so irritated I woke up in the middle of the night, couldn’t breathe. Two days of holding my head over a pot of boiling water,  walking around making the Felix noises from Odd Couple, I think it’s almost over. Sheesh I’ll admit, I wanted to get my nose amputated, I thought it was trying to kill me.

I used to have a job, and I got six days a year of sick leave. I remember once asking my boss if I could take a sick day to go sailing with friends after I’d been with the company almost a year. The office manager said yes, because I was about to lose my sick days! Use ’em or lose ’em, she said, she was a real stickler about that, Good Old Mary Cullen.

I went to Folsom Lake all day, and the resulting sunburn used up four more days. I lost the sixth day, and Mary actually scolded me about not managing my sick days better. Ah, the good life of full employment in a quasi-public agency. We weren’t a public agency, but we served various city, county, and state agencies, so we operated in the same manner. I got good benefits, there was even a “profit-sharing” program. When I left that job, I actually got my “share” – almost $1,000, I was shocked. No pension, but I never would have expected one

We were expected to work, especially if there was a big job that needed to go out, nobody was allowed to get sick. I remember working with excema rash – a side-effect of handling ammonia coated film all day – up to my arm pits, wearing rubber gloves over it, sweating and itching.  I did all aspects of the job by the time I left, because nobody was allowed to be idle. If your supervisor didn’t have enough work for you, you went to another department, no slackers. We filmed records, we processed the film into rolls, fiche, or paper copies. I learned everything from handling, production, finishing, inspection, labeling and shipping. I learned to use a paper cutter that had buttons on either side – you had to have your hands on those buttons to operate the machine with a foot pedal, or the blade wouldn’t move, because that blade could take your hand off like you were made out of butter. I drove deliveries at 4am in Downtown Sacramento – a young woman, alone, scuttling around the loading docks of big buildings in the middle of the night. I’ll never forget the janitor who came around the corner with a mop bucket one night, or the hooker who offered to show my co-worker her tit for $5. 

I have lived, don’t let this boring shit fool you. Like Roy Baty, I’ve seen stuff, that even I have forgotten, thank goodness. 

I just want people to know, when I criticize somebody for the job they do, or don’t do, I have worked myself, and I’ve been a good employee. I just don’t understand people who get paid to do a job and then complain they can’t do the job, or they’re not getting enough money. 







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