By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Living in fear of losing a job
Placeholder Image

Dear Editor,
I read the Great Bend Tribune article: “Job fest comes amid modest recovery” (May 10 issue). We must always “thank” Almighty God for our Blessings, large and small. Almost four weeks ago, I was hired by a Kansas-based company for a new job. I count my blessings, since I have been out of the “official work force” for a long time. When I graduated from Wichita State University in Kansas (with a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree), my now-deceased parents were becoming old and frail. Instead of me going to work with my newly-minted university degree and turning part of my paycheck over by paying an outside “caregiver”, I became that personal care giver to my folks as well as a property-manager of some houses and some wheatland/farmland. I was the youngest of my parents’ children. My siblings were older than me by a fairly wide margin and they had married and some even had babies, making me an extremely “young Uncle Jimmy”. As my parents aged, I was the last child remaining at-home. I felt it was my duty and obligation to care for my folks. For the most part I was a good son but I had my trying-moments being “a one-man band” in caregiving alone. I put my own life on-hold for my parents. I postponed having a wife, children, and a thriving career, yet i have no regrets. I did my very best, despite my flaws when we lived in the Wichita metro-area and at Esbon in Jewell County.
I am still in my “training phase” of my new job and I have been out on several tasks successfully, my terminology is purposely vague, so I will protect my employer and protect my job. I salute all the many workers nation-wide, who are “on-call” workers. Even though I intentionally requested “part time work”, since my health is a concern, I had cancer at age 20, beat it by surgery and chemotherapy, I later got hit by a car which ran a red-light, and the impact tossed me on the windshield until the man slammed on his brakes and I flew off onto the pavement, like a rag-doll, and that occurred when I was a pedestrian at age 38. I suffered a broken leg and had internal injuries. I was hurt so bad I couldn’t crawl away. They had to haul my carcass to a hospital. Again, I healed. I must be the proverbial “Cat with 9-Lives”. But, I am starting to “feel my age” as I glance at my scars.
Now, I have I balance-problems and jagged-sleep patterns: yet I persevere. I want to keep plugging-away. I care about various cousins, one of whom is recovering from ovarian cancer. I care about total strangers and go out-of-my-way to help somebody genuinely in-need.   With my new Job, I am “on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with no let-up”.   
Now, almost four weeks into this new job I am still standing, thank God. But if I were to compare myself to a professional boxer, I am partly standing and partly sitting on the bottom-rope, to regain my composure. I have been on-time, every time, at my workplace. I have taken diligent notes as dictated by my boss. I am in good stead with the company, as of this writing.  Unfortunately, my boss violated one of the rules of our company-policy, and he was demoted in rank, a few days ago. Although he committed the offense and deserved some sort of reprimand: I can attest that he taught us (as student trainees to not commit that same offense during our training). His accuser alleged that the boss insisted that he coached the trainees to cover-it-up. No such coaching of cover-up’s were made in my presence. If I had the power, I would have come to his defense. Not to excuse him; but to rescue his character, since there was no hush-hush demand made in my presence. I was away at a distant hospital helping a relative when this incident was supposedly reported. My boss asked me upon my return if I had been called to evaluate his performance? I was thankful that I hadn’t been called.  I believe my boss was relieved that I wasn’t the snitch. For clarification: I believe in obeying company rules...but I would rescue anyone falsely slandered by a snitch who was acting out of malace instead of something valid such as safety-concerns. I was sorry for his stiff penalty. My boss put on a good poker-face saying  that he didn’t feel pain: but I could tell that he was hurt by the tough action after his 10 years of service to that company. If I had been questioned: I would have been forced to tell the truth that I observed that he committed that offense, but I wouldn’t have tried to deepen his woes. I would have stressed that he taught the trainees properly. His mistake was made, as an individual, on his own accord. He served that company too long to be disciplined that hard---when perhaps a “warning” would have sufficed.
When conversing with an acquaintance (who formerly worked for that same company) about that incident affecting my boss, my acquaintance admitted that he, too, “lost a position” due to one different slip-up in the same company. I will emphasize that I believe in obeying an employer’s rules. By the same token, I am a Christian who believes in an ounce of forgiveness where no damage, deaths or injuries occurred. Do I believe in discipinary action? Yes. Do I believe in, sacking of one’s job or position, for a slip-up? No. Things of this nature shouldn’t  happen in America. There is plenty of room for more jobs and less back-biting. Maybe I’m naive, but I believe in an America whereby people should be more courteous and give others “more slack”, more lee-way.
With my sleep-problems: Would I forsake money (a lower rate of pay) for a solid-block of sleep hours? Yes I would.
With my body-clock being trained with over 16 years of schooling and additional years as a caregiver and property-manager to be mainly a daytime-person, would I forsake money (a lower rate of pay) for a more predictable slot of days when I would be called-in to the job to serve? Yes I would.
I am accustomed to sacrifice. I will work-with people if they will work with me. I don’t even mind being “on the short-end of the stick” (as long as there is a stick). Now, I’m in the same boat with millions of other Americans. I have a job but how long will I have it?  Will my head be next on the chopping-block, despite my perfect-record? I hope not. However, I am “living in fear of losing a job”. I want to keep and retain my job and do it as properly as safely as I can, for as long as my health will allow. But, uncertainty looms. I’ve read about other people’s plight. Now, I’m experiencing it, first-hand.   
Whomever wins the Presidency this November, I hope they will focus on not just “creating Jobs”, but keeping Americans employed in lasting gainful economic activity. I don’t want to be a ‘blip’ on the radar-screen of a ‘job created’ one month, just for an artificial numbers  tally. Will I still be employed a month from now? A year from now? A decade from now?  I honestly don’t know.   But i do know America can do better.
Various  media outlets do reports on “Poverty in America”. I think that the heading “Poverty” turns a lot of people “off”. President Lyndon B. Johnson envisioned “a Great Society”. While some of his reforms were useful; some of his reforms passed by the Congresses then and by subsequent ones, only magnified poverty by instituting a system that rewarded bad or lazy behavior, un-wed mothers and almost encouraging deadbeat dads, while punishing the “law-abiding”, “culture-abiding” people who were faithfully laboring while the others developed sloth, lust, gluttony, debt and begat a new generation of people on the public-dole. I believe the best alms (charity) you can give somebody is help that is truly lasting. While I applaud  the work at homeless shelters and missions I personally wish that the public would pitch-in and make those places cease-to-exist (or rather, be un-needed/obsolete/un-necessary). Let’s apply a lasting cure to the problem, not simply put a repeat band-aids on it. As I drive the streets of bigger cities such as Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City I’ve seen chronic repeat drifters go from place to place, the same people drifting for five years or more. I’ve even stopped to give them food. Although it’s nice to help with a hand-out I feel it’s better to give them a hand-up. But that requires that you stand-by and make certain they succeed. Don’t just toss money or food or beds at them and brag about the kind, fleeting gesture.  Break-the-cycle, don’t perpetuate the same old poverty-cycle and then pat people on the back for continuing the merry-go-round. It must be clear, bad habits, excess cigarettes, drugs, booze, sex (prostitution) must be broken. I believe in genuine prayers, but I don’t think requiring somebody to fake-a-prayer for an hour as a condition of occupancy at a shelter “feeds the bulldog” (as my late Aunt Ida would say). She would say: “Quit beating around the bush”, good habits, including good, thrifty financial habits must be instilled, even if the beneficiary of your kindness becomes ‘bitter’ about your stipulations. Guide them, don’t preach until they have a willing-ear. And, never abandon someone who has a “good heart” inside them. Frugality and wise-spending must be taught, encouraged, and implemented. Good examples rub-off.
If America is to recover from this economic recession/depression we must re-vamp things so people can live and sustain themselves. During my Job-Training I’ve seen people in small hamlets that were living in poverty that was almost unspeakable. They are the “forgotten poor” but I have not forgotten them. Nor have I forgotten the “dog-eat-dog” pressure-cooker at my own place of employment. It is a good workplace, so I am not upset with the setting (per se), but I think that the company (as well as all of America) can expand and thrive if  more cooperation, stability, and less jealousy occurred.
Money is nice but I value a good night’s sleep more. Money is nice: but I value job-security and peace-of-mind more. I’m disgusted by the political parties using “temporary workers” to avoid paying needed benefits. It has become a political chess-match in Washington DC, a game to “cheat the little man”.  I wish Harry S. Truman was still alive, so there would be no more passing the buck.  Like he said: “The buck stops here”. Americans have drifted from our roots. We must get out the spade and shovel and dig down deep in our soul to find our American Constitutional roots, once again.
I’m mighty thankful for the Opportunity to have my Job: but I don’t want my head on somebody’s platter someday.
I hope this letter to the editor “opens eyes” and “opens hearts”. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I’m an Independent. I just wish there was a genune common sense political movement. I want somebody who wants to tackle problems which lay ahead in the years 2013, 2014 and beyond. Right now, it’s a scary proposition. People with guts should look for remedies. We seem to treat our “trading partner nations” much better than we do  our trading-partner neighbor, family-member,  co-worker, or acquaintances. Let’s get back on the right track. If you don’t hear the church bell chiming or the train whistle blowing and think you’re immune, you’re tone-deaf and sadly mistaken. We’re all in this economic boat together. Let’s save it before it sinks us all. May our prayers to God be genuine, and may our financial help or interactions with the employed, the under-employed, and the un-employed be guided by the authentic hand of sustinence by  acting prudently in  “saving” and “spending” and “investing”. All individuals (collectively) must constitute a coordinated work-force along with the prudent (not lavish) safety-net. We must realize that cultivating good, dependable, reliable and stable trade habits and routines, promotes the local economy as well as the overall national economy. Preserving ourselves, our families and friends from economic turmoil or uncertainty is indeed “doing God’s work” by making  our lives less stressful and more worry-free for our fellow-citizens, too.  A blessed, prosperous country such as America can do better. Nobody should live in fear for their job, if they do their best at whatever they can and are physically able to do.
James A. Marples