Saturday July 26 , 2014

The Telltale Stink of Motherless Leaders

Not clear on the hue and cry over Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s Mother’s Day vs Father’s Day emails to his staff (except for the part about sending Mother’s Day and Father’s Day emails to his staff).

All he said was that if it wasn’t for women our male leaders would still be in their poopy diapers.

 

The Economy: If We Just Ignore It, Maybe It Will Go Away

At my book club last night we did something a little different and invited a guest speaker, husband of one of our members, to talk about investing and economics.

He writes about both for a living.

So naturally I made it awkward for him, as I proceeded to send him back to his finished basement better informed as to how I live now.

I know, I know, all about you much, Sooey?

(Speaking of witch, I think a finished basement is just an expensive illusion, as families end up living in their finished basements, while cats sit atop the backs of the chesterfields in the still dust beams of the abandoned living rooms of the nation, staring out Triple-E windows, and willing squirrels on the other side of domestic life to come closer, closer.)

But he has a pulpit and I’m a shameless, although extremely competitive, starfucker.

Also, I know I can’t be alone in having dropped from the financially secure middle class into what’s really the financially insecure working class, although nobody calls people like me that, including people like me.

We’re all middle class now, and why not. There’s no law that says we have to trade up and shop until we drop and saddle ourselves and our kids with post-secondary education debts, is there. Not that we’d consider living any other way, which is really what makes us all middle class, if you stop and think about it, which no one ever does – OR WE WOULDN’T BE IN THIS BIG STUPID MESS!

Poll away but people misrepresent their situations and opinions and not even necessarily deliberately, although we do that, too. Sometimes, even with all our complaining, we don’t actually realize how screwed we really are. I guess it was growing up with Conservative pundits and politicians decrying the cradle to grave socialism of our welfare state that had me believing I actually lived in one.

Thank you, Conservative Party of Canada, for disabusing me of that fantasy.

Or are we screwed? It’s hard to say, really. I’m in quite a different economic situation than I was a couple of years ago, and yet I’m less anxious about money and more content about everything else in my life. I almost said happy there for a second but really, you’d have to be either an idiot or a psychopath to be happy in a world run by idiots and psychopaths.

Next on my list of must reads is “Bright-sided” by Barbara Ehrenreich.

So I blibbed and blabbed and he mostly endured with the help of a couple of scotches, but a couple of factoids resonated with him, I think. Or, at least, he put on a good show of interest if they didn’t, which is pretty decent of him, since it’s not like he was making his usual speaker’s fee, surely more than zero.

I kept it personal, Sooey Sooey Sooey, and told him about clearing $12/hr in 1982 with a government agency “Go-Temp” as a word processor, and then a private agency, TOSI, where I ended up clearing $14/$16/hr, depending, in 1983.

(True, there was a fleeting period in the 80s when an ability to intuit the workings of new fangled computing machines combined with a grade nine typing course to make temp agencies a girl’s best friend and supporter of her boyfriend, who could maybe do code, but couldn’t pass a typing test to save his bacon.)

Finally, almost 50, I had a job I felt reflected my education and experience. The Canadian dream, a modest return on investment. Sooey bucket list check.

Also, back in the day, my ex had a student loan repayment of a few thousand dollars at 15% interest, that caused us no little bit of stress and distress.

Call me a crazy old lady but I think we need a historical reality check re the panic about young adult university graduates working at Starbucks and living with a parent and negotiating student loan payback schedules.

And of course they’re not buying houses. I didn’t consider buying a house until I was in my 30s and that was after a decade of work (half of it on contract through an agency, the other half unionized) and living on my own (with my ex) in a series of rental accommodations that caused me varying degrees of stress and distress due to assholes and their stereos.

And we couldn’t live with our parents back in the day because “my house, my rules”. Also, they said no, goodbye, don’t come home when the streetlights come on anymore.

Our kids can, though, because we’re… egalitarian? Accommodating? Nice?

A customer even lamented to me the other day, “At least you see your kids all the time. Mine moved away and I never see them anymore except for visits. I miss them. I miss them living with me all the time.”

I doubt my mother ever had a moment when she missed any one of us living with her, although maybe she did. Even so she would have perished the thought instantly as an aberration of the natural order and settled in with a scotch on the rocks and the Sault Star to recover herself.

Then I told him about now, and how counter-productive the retail business model seems to be, and asked how free trade can be good for us when we’re all making the same lowest amount legally possible for businesses to pay us regardless of what we’re selling to each other. But he countered with the fact that the retail business never made any sense to him before, either, and that it used to be pointlessly unyielding to competitive reality. (I paraphrase and probably incorrectly although looking back, I don’t really disagree with him.)

The big difference between then and now to him is the amount of debt graduates are saddled with, vs their ability to pay it off and within what time frame, and the stress they feel as a result. Also, the difficulty of finding “good” jobs so that they can start making plans to get married, have children, buy houses, and so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc.

Also, he’s very annoyed with what he sees as universities entrenched in another time and place that are failing to equip students with what they need to succeed in the marketplace. (Bear in mind his field of expertise is Economics, which is based on the theory of supply and demand. Critical thinking skills just get in the way of digging it up here and sending it over there, I guess.)

But then the bombshell. I had mentioned that buying a house (and I couldn’t get a mortgage now, of course) is good because we build equity, it’s a forced savings plan, and nest egg (although we don’t intend to sell ours, so not really). He definitely disagreed with that canard and suggested that if he did the math he’d probably be annoyed because he figures he’s put as much into his house as the equity he’s built up, and that given the situation facing our kids, his house is an unreliable nest egg because there will be too many sellers and not enough buyers.

What’s changed, is that it’s all changed, in other words, and our kids won’t be, and, in fact, already aren’t, going through those rites of passage we claim as the Canadian dream. And he’s right, because I’m witnessing it, and you’re witnessing it. Unemployment can go down, and yet, employment still isn’t going up.

The fact is, I couldn’t get a house now because my employment isn’t secure enough. And I don’t know how many young people you know with secure employment, but I don’t think I know any. Even the young people I knew in the public service were, like me, on terms that are subject to renewal (or not) every six months or so.

So they live with a parent or rent apartments together and go out and eat, dance, travel (young people travel as much if not more than my mother, the teacher, did) and whittle away at student debts that I tell my kids are their mortgages.

“Think of it as a mortgage. You’re living an educated life. It’s all good. And you don’t want a house anyway because for you it won’t be a sound investment. Besides, you have two parents who will each own one we’ll have no one to sell it to, anyway.”

His advice? Sell now and/or downsize if your house, the one you bought when you had kids, is your nest egg. Don’t retire. And if you have a few thousand dollars to sock away for ten years or so, get a balanced mutual fund.

Sooey’s advice? Stay put or move, buy, rent, it won’t matter either way or any way. Retire or don’t, it doesn’t matter, either. And if you have a few thousand dollars to sock away for ten years or so, pretend you already did that already and spend it all now on a trip or give it away or burn it. Whatever. Just stop feeding the beast, the insanity, the illusion otherwise known as the economy.

 

The LCBHo

Okay, I’ve done a 180 and now want prostitution legalized, not just decriminalized, as is the want of the prostitution lobby.

That’s right. I want government run brothels.

And I want the government to contract out their call center to a company called “Rogered”. And I want “Rogered” to out-source the contract to India.

That’s all for now, although I may return with a list of menu options.

 

Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Johns?!

I came up with the idea for an empowerment poster for johns while engaged in a discussion about prostitution over at Dr. Dawg’s, where I like to post comments (do you think he gets more traffic than I do?), because I noticed no one ever admits to being one, a john, I mean.

Won’t somebody please think of the johns?

Or admit to being one, at least?

“I Choose To Buy Sex From Another Human Being. No One Is Forcing Me To Do It. Why Isn’t It My Legal Right?”

or

“Don’t Hate Me Because I’m a john.”

or

“My Name Is Tyler/Cody/Edgar and I Am a john.”

or

“What’s the Big Deal? Fuck Off!”

I’ve read column after blog after comment by various and sundry sex worker-by-choice (and, of course, nothing by a sex-worker-not-by-choice, who has less in common with a sex-worker-by-choice than I do, and who would probably be better off with the legalization of drugs, since the legalization of prostitution will have little effect on a life made difficult by a lack of money and availability of inexpensive drugs for legal sale) but no one ever prefaces a column or blog or comment with “As a john”.

I mean, we seem to be arguing about legalizing (or decriminalizing) the sex trade so that girls and women will be safe from johns, without johns ever interrupting to say, “Hey – we’re not all rapist murderers!”

But I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not prostitution should be legalized or decriminalized, and I had decided on decriminalized because I’m not sure that legalizing it wouldn’t put the government in the position of being a pimp, and I wouldn’t wish that bureaucratic nightmare on any of us.

Now I’m torn, though because I came across a site in my travels called “AskMen” that offered up a protocol for visiting a strip club that offers lap dances. And I remembered how strippers were the most adamantly opposed to lap dancing being legalized because they knew it would essentially turn them into prostitutes.

And no one is more clear that “I am NOT a prostitute” than a stripper.

The “AskMen” site is mostly offensive because it thinks it isn’t. Cutesy advice like, “Just don’t let these very specific etiquette rules spill over into the rest of your life: The clerk at the 7-Eleven will not appreciate an extra $5 bill tucked into her cleavage — take it from someone who knows.”

Meanwhile, a woman would be kicked out of a strip club for wanting a lap dance from another woman, wouldn’t she.

Strip clubs are discriminatory in the worst way, in my opinion, and if anything should be illegal it’s discrimination based on gender. Not to mention, sexual orientation.

Oh wait, it is.

Now, I don’t really care about Happy Hookers. I mean, fuck you and your $400/hr, lying on your back job, fuck you in the ear. Whatever. Legal. Not legal. Criminalized. Decriminalized. I don’t care. I just. Don’t. Care.

But I do care about the addicted young women I see downtown who look and act like they would do pretty much anything for drug money. And I can’t speak for all the other radical prudes, but I’m pretty sure they’re not arguing against decriminalization and legalization because they want to make the lives of addicted young women even less safe.

And since the legalization of drugs would make them a lot safer than the legalization or decriminalization of prostitution will, fuck you prostitution lobby, fuck you in the ear.

Really, and who are men to know anything about the effect of legalization or decriminalization of prostitution on women, anyway? We grow up being viewed as sex objects. We’re tired of it. Enough already.

Speak up for the johns.

Or go fuck yourselves, go fuck yourselves in the ear.

 

 

A Question Or Two for Andrew Coyne Re Free Trade

If free trade is so good for us, as alleged by you and almost everyone else who’s anyone these days, why is it that the government of Ontario recently had to step in and raise the legal minimum wage paid to us by our corporate retailers?

Why are so many educated and experienced middle-aged Canadians working in retail, part-time, and for minimum wage (which in Ontario is now $11/hr, at least, so thank you once again, Premier Wynne)?

Where have all the ash trees gone?

Why are oranges from Florida suddenly $6.99 (for ten small sour oranges)?

How come it doesn’t matter if we work in a store that sells high end ladies wear or cheap plastic beads, we still only make minimum wage and get part-time hours?

I await your answers.

Sooey Says, Shopgirl

 

Not a Pony, A Solid Gold Roof!

But I am glad to have been laid off from my brief time in the public service. I was only there for three years but it felt like longer. And it was stupid that I was never able to do it part-time, which still would have been double what I make now, by way of job sharing or somesuch.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I made good money for those three years, although the people around me all made more, and I needed the benefits, especially the ability to schedule appointments for this and that.

Interestingly, I never schedule appointments now that I work in retail. I could, because I’m only part-time, but I don’t. I go to work, sell clothes, then come home and do this and that.

I like being at home doing nothing much. Now that I don’t drink I’m way choosier about outings of all variety.

I got old, man.

I am literally small and dry now.

You’ll be gratified to hear that I was re-elected president of our housing association at our annual general meeting the other night. It was gratifying for me, too, but I could never be a real politician. The electorate eventually blends into one gigantic whiny ingrate and the temptation to spray them with water as they lurch toward one with yet another complaint about visitor parking is overwhelming.

I can’t afford to get sued.

No wait, if I can’t afford to get sued, I guess I can afford to get sued.

Bring it on, muthafuckas!

I was tempted to say as much in my little campaign speech, about the whiny lurching thing, because having been on the committee I trust the process now and thought I didn’t care to win, but at the last minute I did.

I smelled a fee-raiser among my competition.

You know the type.

Liberal.

“Why don’t we just raise fees so we can replace our old asbestos roof shingles with solid gold bars?”

Yes, francophone, too. I know, I know, racist much Sooey?

Admit it. Our Liberal francophone brothers and sisters never saw a problem throwing money at it wouldn’t solve.

Not that they aren’t right, because throwing money at a problem almost always solves it, but it’s important for the rest of us to hold the line on all that joie de vivre with a little work hard then die and who do you think you are and money doesn’t grow on trees and blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda no we’re not raising fees because we’re cheap sons of bitches, you cheese eating surrender monkeys.

Omigawd. Just think if Americans were more like the French how much better off we’d all be.

Really, I’m such a conservative in practice it’s beyond hypocritical that I’m such a socialist in theory.

Still, Liberals really do drive me nuts, even though I just voted for one.

It’s important to go against type every now and again, though, isn’t it.

Also, re running again to be president, I’m super competitive still and haven’t become a better person at all, as I thought I had for some reason.

So yes, back to me. As I keep blogging, I enjoy being an ordinary hardworking family taxpayer because I make so little money in my new private sector world that, ironically, my chronic anxiety about whether or not I’ll have enough money to last through old age is gone.

Poof! And it’s so freeing I can’t tell you the difference it has made to my state of being. Food tastes better, colours are brighter, and I sleep like a baby (a good baby, too, not one of those bad babies that turns its mother into a red-eyed zombie who will lactate at the sound of a chain saw even ten years later).

And that’s because I realize now that I won’t have enough, that I was never going to have enough. But lots of people won’t. Not to live the way we do even now, later, we won’t have enough.

But when I go to our annual general meeting and meet my sister and brother homeowners again face-to-face I am reminded that we’re all in this together and that there’s no reason to be afraid because, really, to be fair, people may be whiny complainers, but they’re also quite reasonable.

Some are even kind and good and you can rely on them to be there. For all of us.

And so there was elected to our committee a passionate defender of the rights of homeowners who run into financial difficulty such that they may not be able to pay their fees, to not be summarily executed, which wasn’t our policy anyway, but you never know, so good, I’m glad.

Because I’m an adapter and adapters can be more casual about change than is fair to others. Up, down, over, around. We adapt.

If we have a blog we just complain before, during and after, but really, we thrive on change because adapting to it is our forte.

So society needs passionate defenders of the rights of people for whom change is more challenging, almost always for reasons related to health, to balance us back to what’s kind and good and reliably so.

And not everybody has a blog, either.

Anyway, I’m not a REAL political analyst, but that’s, I think, what went missing with the NDP in this latest provincial election. The passionate defender of all those people who haven’t already adapted to our great fall, because we’ve had one and the Conservative Party of Canada has burnt the ladder, was A.W.O.L.

There are a lot of people in my circumstances who are overwhelmed by change, and a lot of people who never even got on the ladder, people no one seems to be concerned about who are surviving on less societal support than ever, but who are aging, too.

And in the place of the NDP was a re-worked slogan from the infamous Commonsense Revolution, led by the unlikely Mike Harris, golf bum, and a not so subtle hint from a leader that if she could pull herself up by her bootstraps, so could you, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances may be, that left those of us who know better thinking she should know better, too.

And really, solid gold bar roofs would never have to be replaced. And no matter how far Conservative government pulled our social safety net out from under our feet, our roofs, at least, would keep us warm and dry while simultaneously increasing our net worth.

 

Just a Stepping Stone

But while Ontarians pat each other on the back for electing the first lesbian Premier (that we know of ) (just kidding!) (I kid!) (although Bill Davis did bear an uncanny resemblance to his wife) you’ve got to wonder how many of her voters still have no idea that they’re so progressive.

Or does that make them even more progressive?

“Says here, Sally, that we elected the first lesbian Premier of Ontario. But I thought she lost?”

“Guess the Liberal lady is a lesbian, too, Joe. And it looks like the next President of the United States will be a lesbian. Oh well, better’n a Muslim Kenyan, I guess.”

I like being one of the ordinary hardworking family taxpayers I’ve heard about all my life from politicians. I’m barely paying for groceries, of course, but I feel extraordinarily well compensated in lip service from my elected representatives.

Ooh, tell me again from abroad, wearing your expensive suit, your personal stylist just out of camera range, surrounded by your $20 ($40?) million security bubble , Mr. Prime Minister of Canada, what an ordinary and hardworking family taxpayer I am.

Everybody seems to think Stephen Harper is in hiding after issuing a press release from the government of Canada (as opposed to the Harper government, which is so yesterday it may as well be s.35 of the Constitution Act, 1982) announcing approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

Oh c’mon, was there ever any doubt? It’s how and why the Conservative Party was created, to represent Tarsands Inc. once it cheated its way into Cabinet.

But how can Harper be in hiding when he’s starring on a world tour as Canada’s Prime Minister who cares more about the survival of African babies than Mother Theresa cared about saving the souls of poor Hindus by converting them into Catholics on their deathbed.

Also, Harper is surrounded by a $20 (40?) million security bubble and kind of hard to miss as it chauffeurs him through the streets of Calcutta.

No, he’s just waiting out approval of Keystone. I mean, what else does he have to do except work for Tarsands Inc. to get pipelines built so there’ll be jobs!jobs!jobs! for all us ordinary hardworking family taxpayers who’ve been subsidizing Tarsands Inc. to the tune of grabillions – so Dear Leader can move on to his real destiny as Ruler of the Universe for Mothers and Babies.

Hard not to wonder, though, if his approval of a pipeline so many people oppose isn’t a deliberate strategy to incite violence so that Tarsands Inc. can do here what Canadian companies do everywhere else in the world now and invite local security forces to start shooting.

May as well face it now as after when he’s Ruler of the Universe for Mothers and Babies, sister and brother hardworking family taxpayers, Harper didn’t create the Conservative Party for us.

We were only ever his stepping stone.

 

Canada’s Critical Human Resource Manager Shortage

Well well, it looks like voter turnout reversed its downward trend and actually went up in the recent Ontario election, so tired are the good people of Ontario of smirking Conservative frat boys playing politics with our lives, to paraphrase Olivia Chow.

Can you imagine not voting for Olivia Chow to be mayor of Toronto? Cripes, she was practically born (in Hong Kong) to be mayor of Toronto. If it were up to me she wouldn’t even have to get elected, she’d be appointed.

My Conservative friend is no doubt distraught at Wynne’s win, but that’s because his politics are all theoretical, not practical, and Liberals are all about putting back with one hand what they take out with another.

Governing, in other words. Tax and spend Liberals. It’s all good, austerity having been proven to be a crock of shit. Just look at Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party coffers. While we were getting poorer, he and his were getting richer.

Like all our corporations, the Conservative Party is rolling in dough. Are you? I’m not. In fact, my bank account is the lowest it’s been in a couple of decades.

And I’m not about to get rich selling ladies wear for $11/hr am I.

I want that Liberal budget passed and implemented and all the naysayers at Sun Media and the National Post can take their naysays and shove ‘em where the Sun don’t shine, which is mostly everywhere, but whatever, shut the fuck up, Sun Media.

But I only just realized the other day, because I’m susceptible to what I read in the newspapers, even though I rarely read the National Post and never read the Sun, and they always feature business owners complaining that they can’t afford the cost of Canadian labour, so the Globe, Ottawa Citizen and CBC’s website, no matter how little they pay us, that I make the same money as everybody else working for minimum wage in Ontario, even though I work in a store that sells high end ladies wear.

And, of course, the threat was that if the minimum wage was raised, we’d get fewer hours. But that hasn’t happened. In fact, they’re hiring where I work.

Another fact is, and we know it’s a fact because even if we didn’t have statistical proof, which the Conservatives would really like to eliminate (not the deficit, which is their best friend and excuse for privatizing and contracting out publicly funded services to corporate donors to the Conservative Party fund, which is used to subvert democracy and which is why they created a deficit) we can see by our pay stubs and bank accounts vs the reported earnings of our corporate employers, that it doesn’t matter how high their profits are, they will only pay employees the legal minimum they can get away with paying.

Also, whether they close up shop or not has nothing to do with how any one business they own may be doing anyway, which is why we should have no loyalty to whoever we may happen to be working for on any given day.

Meanwhile, Stephen Harper’s entire economic game plan rests on selling tarsands product that may actually be more costly to produce, and that’s not even factoring in environmental costs, than it is profitable to sell.

By the way, on the list of express skilled immigrants Chris Alexander is saying we desperately need in Canada? Human resource managers. That’s right human resource managers. I mean, do you fucking believe it? Why would Canada be in need of immigrant human resource managers? So Conservatives can lay off more existing Canadian citizens and taxpayers faster? So we can be laid off by people with a better, i.e. less Canadian, work ethic?

No, seriously, wtf?!

Do the economy a favour and deport Chris Alexander, Sooey Says.

He can take Jason Kenney with him for company.

I’m so depressed about Iraq now I don’t know why I’m even blogging about his nonsense. Or maybe that’s why. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

 

Voting Day!

Too funny, our paid punditry going on and interminably on about how our voting choice here in Ontario is so awful when it’s between a Ford/Hudak/Harper hat-trick for the Conservative Party of Canada, one of the most corrupt organizations on the planet, and either a Premier Wynne or a Premier Horwath – or both – which would be fine.

Kathleen Wynne put it best, of course, as she consistently did throughout the campaign, her haters notwithstanding, voters in Ontario are making a choice today between two very different versions of the future.

If enough of us choose Hudak, we don’t have one. If enough of us choose her or Horwath, we do.

But I’m voting Liberal, I’ve decided, not just because I’m annoyed that Horwath voted down a budget I wanted passed, because I really really like Kathleen Wynne’s style. Having a chic Premier is important to me and she really brings it with her fashion sense.

You can think I’m shallow if you want, but you know I’m right.

 

It’s the Stupid Economy, Stupid

One aspect of working where I do now that I really like is how connected it is to working people, the people politicians think they mean when they reference us all as ordinary, hardworking, taxpayers, families, the middle-class (because politicians know it sounds elitist to call us working-class), average, consumers, regular, citizens, and so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc.

You know, not public servants and/or panhandlers, politicians being a self-loathing and awkward combination of the two, I guess.

I see everybody where I work, if not in the store, on the way to and from it on the bus, and waiting for it, but especially at my work stop, and if the government town of Ottawa is any indication of how our economy is faring, it looks to me like it’s downsizing, and downsizing quickly. Also, very, very unevenly.

Never mind the expanding community of citizens who appear to be “between gigs”, so to speak, that I witness almost daily now on my way to and from work, it’s the divide between me and my former co-workers in the public service. Or just anyone who has a decent paying job with benefits and a pension, really, who either hasn’t faced the axe or is so close to retirement and been in the workforce long enough (that’s my economic Achilles heel, being a homemaker for a dozen years) that she doesn’t have to worry about it, not to any great extent, anyway.

Retail isn’t decent paying, it doesn’t have benefits, so there’s next to nothing by way of a pension at the end of it. Still, I’d rather do it than be a policy analyst in the government now because I’ve come to appreciate the difference between feeling compromised, bored and anxious, and just feeling my dawgs barkin’ at the end of a shift.

Also, there’s the satisfying “ka-ching” that goes off in my head every time I make a sale, which in our store means that a sister citizen has, for the time being, found what she was looking for, which is just something to wear, but you’d be surprised by how easily women can make ourselves happy.

Really, gentlemen, you’d be surprised. Probably more than a little irked, too.

But there’s just no economic comparison to be made between then and now. I make enough money to cover groceries (although my son is living with us…) and that’s it. No discretionary income, no savings to be had from my employment. The money I make covers groceries and that’s it.

There are conflicting reports at work on how the store is doing, too. One older co-worker, who would know, says business is down, that the store will close. But the young manager, who wouldn’t necessarily, says business is fine. The store manager certainly gives the impression it’s not good, and if a visit from the regional manager recently is any indication, it’s dire.

None of which is good news to the most recent management hire who has outfitted herself in at least a couple of grand worth of clothes from the store, as managers are supposed to do, even though they only make about $30,000/year. Our clothes are middle of the line pricey, nothing outrageously expensive but nothing cheap, either. They’re a declining reasonable quality, though. I’m too slim for our pants but I bought a couple of dresses with my discount that I can wear anywhere.

It wasn’t just that I’m a magpie and the dresses are cute, it was strategic.

I’ve got my eye on a skirt and a sweater that I’ll wait to go on sale before making my next strategic move. The other day a customer tried on the skirt and thank gawd it was too small for her. The sweaters I’ve stacked up high on a shelf in the short lady side of the store where they can’t be reached. One of my co-workers, a veteran, was complaining to our manager, “We’re not selling those sweaters on this side of the store but they’re selling on the regular side. Do you think it might be because they’re up so high?”

But our manager, who doesn’t know I put them up there and thinks she must have done, and who doesn’t like to be wrong, said, “No, it’s because our shorter customers don’t like horizontal stripes and bright colours.”

Phew. I saw one lady looking up at them the other day so I quickly zipped over to the other side in case she asked me to get them down for her. She was slim, too, my size, although you’d be surprised by how eager our customers are to swim in their clothes. I’ll be like, “I think that sweater is too big for you. You’re not an extra large. I’m pretty sure you’re not even a large. Would you like to try the medium?”

“No, I like my sweaters to be roomy. I’ll take this one. Do you have any other extra large sweaters in black?”

Le sigh.

Really, if we had a savvy entrepreneur in Canada she’d open a store that carries extra large black sweaters – only – and make a killing.

Shit! Did I just give that idea away for free? Stupid blog.

But I don’t care about the store. It can go under. In fact I hope it does. Because it won’t be until downtown has more closed than open businesses and throngs of people “between gigs” milling about, that people who still have discretionary income to spend, discretionary income of the sort that they can just pop into a reasonable quality ladies wear store on their way home from work and buy, well, anything, will start to wonder who’s left paying taxes to cover their public services, let alone their public service retirements.

I work with middle-aged people who put in 8 1/2 hour shifts, 1/2 hour unpaid lunch, managing payroll, inventory, staff, sales, they work the floor, same as I do, for $30,000/year. I make less than half of that working four or five, 4-5/hr, shifts per week, which is all that is available in retail unless you’re in management, and really, I couldn’t be on my feet more than I am now.

I’m worried about my mother these days, too, so my lower back, where stress accumulates, starts aching practically the moment I get to work. Also, it’s tense times, regional head office trying to scare up sales, literally, it seems, by terrorizing store managers. And even though I don’t care about the future of the store, I work with people who do, and I care about them.

The thing is, I also know that how well our particular store may or may not do, sales-wise, has nothing to do with whatever decisions are made by the private equity firm that owns it. Rumours of closure are inevitable because closure is inevitable.

Also, our pants aren’t selling because they don’t fit anyone properly and they all come in a style that our customers don’t want even if they did. When they look at me with dismay, having tried on every available option, I say, “You have to believe me when I tell you – it’s not you, it’s our pants.”

And our jackets either have sleeves that are too narrow or sleeves that are too wide, as if the former were designed using Asian models and the latter Japanese sumo wrestlers.

Whatever. Clearly the decisions being made that effect our economy have nothing to do with the people who live in it, you and me, us. We’re just a political football, kicked over here for a touchdown to the benefit of the team owner that day, kicked over there to the benefit of a different team owner the next. Or the same team owner, because really, the good citizens of Minneapolis will be hosting the NFL Superbowl of 2018 more or less for free, won’t they.

Meanwhile, soccer-mad Brazilians seem less than enthused about hosting the World Cup in a couple of weeks, don’t they, and who can blame them?

No, the store will close, as it should, and I’ll move on to another p/t job in retail, probably one where they’ll spring for the uniform (if they’d just give me the fucking sweater I’d wear it and every second customer would buy one) but at least I won’t have saddled myself with a couple of grand worth of clothes that I don’t have a job to wear them to.

And I notice even she had no luck with our pants. Hundreds and hundreds of pants, all sizes and colours, not a single proper fit among them, and yet we have customers come in who say they used to be able to just pick the size they bought last time, head to the cash without even trying them on, and go home.

The thing is, and this didn’t occur to me until just the other day, but it’s people like me, working p/t for minimum wage, who can’t afford to retire, ever, but who also don’t pay much by way of taxes, because we’re in the barely making paying for groceries tax bracket, who are expected to cover the retirement of, say, my ex, who will have put in enough public service years soon to call it quits and who, I hope, has a long and healthy go of it.

And he’s not even one of our public servants who will need to take a year’s worth of vacation before he can even retire lest he get hit with a tax bill so huge it kind of cancels out that first year of pension. Or whatever. Public service retirement is so complicated it comes with a course.

So, at least, I want to be the sort of caring ex who hopes that he he has a long and healthy go of retirement, not just for our kids, but as a good person who acts in her own self-interest of wishing other people well.

Still, as a p/t minimum wage working class heroine, well, you probably know where I’m going with this and you’re right, it’s not fair, and it’s not good, and it’s not smart, but, um, it’s this damned stupid economy that’s making us all stupid, isn’t it.