Sunday, September 25, 2011

The New Front Line in the Culture Wars: The Janitor's Closet!

In my new incarnation as a janitor at a medical institution (one in which yours truly has recently won an award for best cleaning of patient rooms, thank you very much) my workday begins and ends with a trip to the janitor's closet. Throughout my worklife, I have seen more of these closets than I’d like to admit. They are all pretty much the same. There’s a sink in the corner with a drain for pouring out filthy pail water at the end of the day. There are racks on the walls for hanging dust mops and brooms. There are shelves for boxes of trash bags and various cleaning solvents. And they are almost universally too small. Even the closet at my prestigious institution is so small that once the cleaning cart is parked inside one must squeeze around it to access the supply shelves. So imagine my surprise when I heard there was a move afoot by a state legislative group (in Virginia, to be precise, but the movement has to start somewhere and if it catches on in Virginia, then it will surely spread to our beloved Great Lakes State eventually) designed to tackle the problem of small janitor’s closets! Who are these wonderful people? Obviously some sort of commie pinko labor-loving outfit that wanted to “stick it to the man” by symbolically reforming the most lowly physical manifestation of the working environment, right?
Well, no. Actually the folks advocating this reform are Conservative Republicans.
As Ned Flanders might say, that’s a real head-scratcher, right there. I thought these people were against government regulations in the workplace. But who am I to be so prejudiced? Maybe they just started to feel sorry for the lowly blue collar working stiffs and decided to give us poor janitors a break. Or perhaps (and more likely) they’re getting huge campaign contributions from large corporate donors who make janitor’s closets. Dunno. Either way, we’re gonna get bigger closets, so who cares?
But wait. These Republicans don’t want to have these regulations for janitor’s closets at all workplaces. Just certain ones.
What? Well, okay… maybe there are some places that are too small to be able to afford to re-do their existing janitor’s closets. Some small mom & pop companies, perhaps. So I guess I could see why the Republicans would want to give these smaller places a break. But still, maybe the rest of us who work in larger (and richer) places will soon get our palatial 50-square-foot janitor’s closets! Right?
Well, no. Not exactly. The regulations aren’t based on the size of the company, but on what type of facility they are. Specifically, medical institutions.
Well, that kinda sucks for about 90% of the janitorial workforce out there, but for those people like me who earn their bread cleaning medical facilities, it’s still something I can look forward to, huh?
Not all medical facilities will be required to expand their janitor’s closets.
Okay… so which ones WILL be required to expand them?
Only medical facilities that provide abortion services.


So… Republicans are against intrusive government regulations on grounds that such regulations would inhibit the ability of employers to do what they do. Unless the Republicans happen to disagree with what those employers happen to do. In which case it’s fine to pile on as many costly regulations as possible just to be a pain in the ass.
So… I guess they don’t really care about us lowly janitors at all and we’ll have to live with our cluttered closets forever and ever amen.
Unless we work at an abortion clinic.
Their closets will be awesome!

Fuck the Republicans!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September Haiku

Trees in new colors
Know that it's fall, but the sky
Still thinks it's summer.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The New Migrant Workers

A strange thing is happening here in the Flint area. Something that has happened to me and now, I notice, to many others ‘round our beloved Buick City. We live here, but no longer work here.

When I finally managed to snag a job in Ann Arbor, I thought I was the only one who had to drive over an hour to my place of employment. That’s not true, as it turns out. In my own neighborhood, the lady across the street who once also worked in Flint, now has to commute to Bay City for her job. Another neighbor goes past Lansing. One must drive to Pontiac. Others in the area, I’m told, are forced to commute as far away as Grand Rapids and Mount Pleasant! It seems we have become a force of migrant workers, though unlike the agricultural laborers usually associated with that phrase, we drive back home at night. And if the others are anything like me, they will generally have just enough time to eat dinner and get ready for the next workday. Time for relaxation, socializing and puttering around the house are at a minimum.

I suppose one could reasonably ask why the hell we don’t simply move closer to where our jobs are. That’s a fair enough question but I think it has a reasonable answer. First of all, trying to sell a house in the Flint-area market would be an exercise in frustration. It’s not as though Flint is a hotbed of real estate activity. Trying to sell a house in this environment would be like trying to sell Playgirl subscriptions at a Lesbian convention. It just ain’t gonna happen.
Second, and more importantly, many of those working far from home have spouses and/or other household members who still have Flint-area jobs. Moving closer to one job would mean moving farther away from the other.
Finally, at least in my own case, there are children involved. My own children are enrolled in the Davison Public School District. Pulling them out would not only disrupt their personal and social lives, but that particular school district is doing a fantastic job educating our children. They are thriving both academically and socially. For me, my long drive is a sacrifice worth making for the sake of my children. Moving would disrupt and most likely hinder their educational progress.

And so I make the commute. As do others. We do this to earn a living. All the while the teabaggers call working people lazy and overpaid.

I keep hearing talk of class warfare. Honestly, I wish it was true. I’m so frustrated with what we working people have to deal with. I’m usually peaceful, but I think it’s time to stir things up a bit. I’m ready for some war.

But it won’t happen. We’re nothing but a bunch of stupid sheep.

Just waiting to get fleeced.

And sliced into lamb chops.


It seems the older I get the more I appreciate the sound of a gentle rain shower.