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Precarious

My brother was laid off his job yesterday. He works, um, worked, at a welding shop in Red Deer. He was their quality control guy. I asked him, i said, “any word on when they’ll need you back? How long is your lay off?” He said, “I’m done. They decided they didn’t need quality control anymore.”
Says somethin’ about capitalism right there, don’t it?
Shawn started in the sheet metal biz more than 25 years ago, being a brake-and-shear guy (whatever that is) at Superior, which built firetrucks. He worked there for twenty years before they shut down and moved to the USA. Not long after he was laid off, he developed blinding headaches. He was unemployed for only a few months before he found this job, but it was enough that his health was compromised.
My brother is a sensitive guy. He’s got integrity, he works hard, he has high standards. And he’s a white man with a trade (though not a journeyman ticket, no credentials like that) and a good reputation. It’s likely he will find a new job soon. But this is worrying. I don’t know jack about his industry in Red Deer, but I do know that for the better part of a year, everyone was working on reduced hours where he was.
My sister-in-law has a good job, and she’s secure there, too, I think.
But my brother is a worrier, and he’s already worried about our mom, who is not doing very well right now–her back is bothering her so much, she’s barely walking and not driving lately. I’m only one province away from them, but it might as well be across the country. what to do?
When my grandmother was ailing and living in a senior’s condo, my mom would drive 8 hours after work on Friday to be with her. Then she would drive home on Sunday to be back at work on Monday. She did this at least twice a month every month for, how long? a year? Would I do that for my mom?
No. not now. I don’t have a job, for one thing, my income is so slender and uncertain. Maybe i should quit school and get a job for a while, start paying back the student loans and going home to help Mom every month for a few days.
Even I know that’s not realistic. And I’m messy, Mom is fastidious like a cat, she’d go mad….
I just talked to Shawn. He’s been unemployed for one day, and he’s worried already. “I don’t know how long Wendy will put up with me if I don’t have a job. She’s been really supportive so far, though,” he said, “But it’s only been a day…”.
“Take some time,” I said, “The answer will come if you stand still and wait for it for a bit.” But he is like me, not patient that way.
He’s a labourer. Not a journeyman, not credentialed, just experienced. How much will that count for? Maybe he can go to school for some retraining, maybe he can pick up a ticket, maybe he can figure out his dreams now, and try to achieve them. Oh, I hope he will limber up a bit and cast his gaze upward, to an expanded horizon of expectations.
“I live paycheque to paycheque,” he said, when i suggested he take some time to relax and figure out something else, “I gotta find something now.”
I nearly cried. I said, “I love you, Shawn.”
He said, “I love you too,” and I heard his voice catch.
capitalism is evil.

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About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, under-employed, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. I play accordion better than I did, and i'm learning the concertina. Slowly.

2 responses »

  1. Capitalism is so evil. I was staying with a friend and was force-fed Peter Mansbridge talking with “experts” on jobs in Canada several nights ago. They made me sick. “Flexibility is the key – move to Regina – put two or three jobs together” OMG! Meantime the experts are pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year – including Mansbridge.

    Reply
  2. I need your permission to repost your blogs to the National Organization for Women (NOW) Board and Combating Racism Committee

    Reply

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