Swans Commentary » swans.com October 7, 2013  



Having What It Takes For The "New" Economy


by Glenn Reed





(Swans - October 7, 2013)   I'm stoked! Finally feeling appreciated. Why? Let me tell you.

This is what the email says: "You have an internal drive to be fantastic. There's no one that works harder than YOU!"

Yes, digital proof straight to me from Corporate America saying I'm the perfect fit for a job. Finally, someone recognizing my work ethic.

You see, until recently I was one of an estimated 4.3 million of the long-term unemployed (unemployed for longer than 27 weeks) in the United States before graduating into the ranks of the tens of millions more who are simply under-employed. But now I'm getting my great break in the new economy courtesy of (drum roll please)....

J.C. Penny!

Thank GOD that I listened to people who told me to "apply for any job at all" and began filling out on-line applications for big corporate chains. Little did I know that so many now require personality tests, or otherwise I would have missed this opportunity to display what kind of amazing human being I am.

Still doubting me? Let me tell detail my astounding "skill set" as revealed by this personality test:

" • Organization Skill - You thrive in environments that need order and rely on process to get things done right."

Process, huh? Like cheese? Well, American "cheese." Okay, I admit there are broad applications to this one and it could apply to most anyone. Well, maybe not those people on the "reality" TV show, Hoarders. Still, I'm clearly one of the high achievers in this...this what? Oh, this environment. I've always been an environmentalist!

" • Attitude - You are a "glass half-full" type of person. You can take any situation and make it a positive."

Well, I'm certainly positive that the last three years have been pretty much an empty glass, but if you want to fill it halfway for me...just make it a microbrew since unemployment turned me into a born-again boozer. BTW, are you drinking that?

" • Adaptability - You are a chameleon. You can change directions on a dime. You can do something one day and do it completely differently the next without missing a beat."

Actually, if I see a dime I pick it up, though phone booths are a thing of the past. But, if you're always changing directions doesn't that make you unpredictable? As in "It's a sunny day and I just don't feel like going in to work!" Is that really what they want in an employee? Oh, whatever!

" • Detail Orientation - You've never left your "T's" uncrossed or your "I's" undotted. You know what's right and check and double check to ensure it's right."

Sounds like obsessive-compulsive personality disorder to me. Actually, I'm more to the left because I do know what's right, but I always dot my t's and cross my eyes. End I always dew double chek. And I always do double check.

" • Initiative - You're on the move even before someone asks. You see the opportunities and you go after them!"

Kind of sounds like avoidance behavior to me. Then again, what use is that psychology undergrad degree except to make such astute observations? Yes, "opportunities" do abound when you're being watched by cameras and supervisors. Didn't I read that in B.F. Skinner's rat tests for stimulus-response behaviors?

Anyway, given all of my now documented, amazing attributes, proven through a personality test, how can I fail? Who needs a few degrees and decades of job experience? After all, there are record Wall Street profits and opportunities stretching from sea to shining sea in America's "New Economy!"

I scan past my accolades in the e-mail to see what exalted position I'll be granted from my corporate saviors at J.C. Penny (another drum roll, please).....

"Support Specialist."

A what?

Support Specialist. As the e-mail reads, "The Support Specialist's role is to handle all of the backroom and merchandise replenishment opportunities that occur in the store to ensure our store environment is America's favorite place to shop!"



To shop.

A few delusions of grandeur there. And "replenishment opportunities that occur in the store...?" Sounds like the way I used to pad my research papers in college. Could they possibly mean...stacking shelves full of consumer crap from China?

Okay, we've all got some faults. Nevertheless, aren't you impressed? How about my range of responsibilities in this job? Here they are:

" • Replenishes and restocks the store - You've got your finger on the pulse of the customer; you know when merchandise is getting low and you know just where to get more to ensure all of our customers have the styles and sizes they need!"

Hey, didn't I do that back in my first summer job in high school? And did I tell them about my bad back? Oh well, the pulse thing is certainly true since I am CPR certified.

" • Receive and unload merchandise - You can unload a truck and prepare the merchandise in the backroom like nobody's business!"

That's not what my past employer said about the clutter on my desk. What is "nobody's business" anyway? If it's nobody's business, then why are they watching all the time? And unload a truck? Did I mention my herniated disks?

" • Responsible for backroom standards - Your stockroom is immaculate; everything's always in the right place so all of your teammates know just where to get merchandise for the customer and is totally safe so they have nothing to worry about!"

My mother used to yell at me to "clean your room!" so I guess I learned more from that than with 6 years of college and 30 years of job experience. Who woulda' guessed? Go, team, go!!! And totally safe, huh? Meaning from nasty, union-inspired safety rules? Guess it's more like Team Misery or Team Danger.

" • Executes pricing and signing - You can change ticket prices and signing on merchandise across the store better and faster than anyone!"

Not sure about this "executes" thing, since I'm against the death penalty, though I'm good at signing "hello." Glad I've been a runner all my life so I can do all that faster than anyone, although did I tell you about my bad back? What do you mean, no health insurance?

Just how do you change a ticket price better than anyone anyway? Choreograph the move and add massive amounts of caffeine?

" • Delivers .com merchandise - You know where all the orders are that have come to the store from online orders; just ask you and you will always make it happen."

Well, if I didn't "make it happen," doesn't that mean that what will happen is I'll be shown the back door? Is this a union job, by the way? Oh right! Unions are "out of date" in the wondrous "new economy." Living wages, overtime, sick days, potty and lunch breaks are just so.....yesterday.

" • Assists customers - You're maneuvering around the store at a fast pace with the merchandise, but when a customer stops you to ask a question or request assistance, there's no one they'd rather be talking to than you."

Aw.....shucks! No, I don't mean corn. I never realized that merchandise could maneuver. I always thought it moved around after-hours, when no one could see it. Anyway....

So I'm a great conversationalist too! Want to hear my thoughts about Camus' The Stranger? How about this column I just wrote on climate change? No? You're going to report me to the manager because I can't find the right shirt size and I didn't smile when you asked me? How about you go straight to hell? Customer's always right, my ass!

Oh well, so much for the accuracy of personality tests and so much for that dream job with J.C. Penny, or (fill-in-the-blank) corporation and so much for that e-mail.

Welcome to the stimulating and fulfilling land of the new service economy.

Maybe there are still some openings in the hunter-gatherer field?


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About the Author

Glenn Reed is a writer and activist from Fair Haven, Vermont, who works in the non-profit world.   (back)


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art19/glennr26.html
Published October 7, 2013