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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Whatever You Say, Boss

I'm a person who truly hates a cute job application. Now, it's true that hard copy paper applications for employment are something that one rarely even encounters anymore, but for the sake of storytime (or nostalgia), let's say it happens all the time.

This bad idea is especially widespread in the service industry. Being a server in particular suggests that you must have an engaging personality -and hopefully you do- but there's still something genuinely obnoxious about having to prove it in an exceedingly contrived way.

Also, the spillover from this phenomenon can also cause inadvertent laughs. When I was applying for a position as a meat cutter at a local hippie-type food store, I declined to fill out the part of their application where I was supposed to draw a picture of how I felt the world should be, or something. I think the grim-faced, blood-covered smock guy who interviewed me that day appreciated not having to evaluate me on this basis, too. Made me wanna ask him: what was your picture like?

That's the shitty part; for as inane as the exercise is, I suspect that you will indeed be judged on your relatively light-hearted answers. I once applied for work in a bar that -for some reason- wanted to know what movie film I liked the best. I replied, "Oliver Stone's 'Nixon'," which was true at the time, but also quirky, you know? I hate to think that that wasn't why I got the job, as opposed to -oh, I don't know- not having boobs or something.

At another local eating establishment, and finally having had enough of this shit, I get asked the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
I already am grown up, I wrote.
"What is your idea of superior customer service?"
Whatever YOU say, boss!, I wrote back, knowing full well that this was why I would not get the job.

But this keeps happening. People want to talk baby talk about things that actually matter, and it sucks. You think that job applications are whimsical pieces of fun, because you're not looking for a job, Boss. Am I failing to be sufficiently cheerful? Maybe it's because I need an income, you sociopath, and you're toying with me.

Now, David Brooks last appeared here in these pages weeping about how mistreated the rich were, and how the rest of us are just straight up being mean. This time, although I have a wide selection of things to choose from, I think maybe I'll quote him on his sincere and fervent hope that a middle-aged Latina judge is capable of basic human delineation.

It's difficult to see what editors feel is acceptable to print, anymore. I mean, that which is demonstrably untrue, that which is patently false -sure. I've been seeing those my entire life.
But that which was written by one who clearly is residing in a universe other than the observable one here; that's kinda new. Dave weeps for the misunderstood rich, and now he'd like to talk about how he genuinely hopes that Sonia Sotomayor is a human.

In this wonderful piece of journalistic thinkin', titled "The Empathy Issue", a quick trip around Your Fairness There is afforded:

Right-leaning thinkers from Edmund Burke to Friedrich Hayek understood that emotion is prone to overshadow reason. They understood that emotion can be a wise guide in some circumstances and a dangerous deceiver in others. It’s not whether judges rely on emotion and empathy, it’s how they educate their sentiments within the discipline of manners and morals, tradition and practice.

Mmhmmm...Wait, so what did Salma Hayek do? Oh, okay: you're just kind of giving us a rundown of what perhaps could go wrong -or right- with any judge anywhere. In a highly generalized manner. So as to not be too specific about anything that might sort of make someone think you're perhaps being condescending to someone who isn't a white man. And, did any thinkers of other ideological bents ever think that? No? Oh.

First, can she process multiple streams of emotion? Reason is weak and emotions are strong, but emotions can be balanced off each other. Sonia Sotomayor will be a good justice if she can empathize with the many types of people and actions involved in a case, but a bad justice if she can only empathize with one type, one ethnic group or one social class.

Oh, brother! The Puerto-Rican brain, huh? That fiery Latin temper! "Multiple streams of emotion"! Lemme off this boat! Ooh! Tell me about the differences between emotion and reason again, Uncle Dave! And let me clean up that last sentence for you: "Anyone will be a good justice if... (et al)"

Second, does she have a love for the institutions of the law themselves? For some lawyers, the law is not only a bunch of statutes but a code of chivalry. The good judges seem to derive a profound emotional satisfaction from the faithful execution of time-tested precedents and traditions.

I dunno, does Nino Scalia have a love for the institutions of the law? Has anyone ever asked him? Why not? Because he's been a judge for most of his working life, and asking such a question would be a little Mister Rogers-esque? "Do you see the balloon? Is the balloon orange? Is the balloon a weather balloon that you've been working with for many years because you're a meteorologist?"

Third, is she aware of the murky, flawed and semiprimitive nature of her own decision-making, and has she accounted for her own uncertainty? ... Because we’re emotional creatures in an idiosyncratic world, it’s prudent to have judges who are cautious, incrementalist and minimalist. It’s prudent to have judges who decide cases narrowly, who emphasize the specific context of each case, who value gradual change, small steps and modest self-restraint.

'Semiprimitive' is about as close as David Brooks, Thinking Man's Conservative, will come to what he's really saying here. To wit: won't someone PUH-LEEEZE think of the children? He'd like you to know that a dangerous Ethnic is being considered here, and he's not so sure that They reason like Us. Or, to be fair about it, what he's really saying is: it's possible that she is undereducated on the nature of the human mind, and would fail to see the underpinnings of prejudice at work in her decision-making, which -again- I'm certain they asked Scalia about at his confirmation hearings.

The is pretty much like this too, in which he seeks to skirt around his central criticism (she's a crazy brown lady possible lesbian)with a lot of sententious ramblings about, oh you know, things in general. I note too that he got back on this topic a few weeks later. I haven't read it yet.

Thomas Friedman, on the other hand, isn't one of the New York Times' pet conservatives -usually. He's generally on the side of sanity and restraint, but that's pretty much what The Management wants. From you, especially. Let's look:

Weighing everything, President Obama got it about as right as one could when he decided to ban the use of torture, to release the Bush torture memos for public scrutiny and to not prosecute the lawyers and interrogators who implemented the policy. But there is nothing for us to be happy about in any of this.

Quite so, Tom. I mean...

After all, we’re not just talking about “enhanced interrogations.” Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has testified to Congress that more than 100 detainees died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, with up to 27 of those declared homicides by the military. They were allegedly kicked to death, shot, suffocated or drowned. Look, our people killed detainees, and only a handful of those deaths have resulted in any punishment of U.S. officials.

Yes, Tom, YES! Criminal acts! And they should be Not Prosecuted because...?

The president’s decision to expose but not prosecute those responsible for this policy is surely unsatisfying; some of this abuse involved sheer brutality that had nothing to do with clear and present dangers. Then why justify the Obama compromise? Two reasons: the first is that because justice taken to its logical end here would likely require bringing George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and other senior officials to trial, which would rip our country apart; and the other is that Al Qaeda truly was a unique enemy, and the post-9/11 era a deeply confounding war in a variety of ways.

So again, Sanity and Restraint are called for on the part of the individual, though not nations. It should be the other way around, I've always felt, because as Dave points out above, people aren't all that rational. All the more reason for nations to be.
As to the usual "Rip our country apart" argument I've heard every time in my life that justice was crying out to be done, I'm gonna say the ripping has already long since been done, and maybe if we call a murderer a murderer in this case, we can actually learn something. The one way to assure that this keeps happening is to Not Talk About It.
The other argument, of course, is that these aren't really people we're talking about here, so even though we admit that torture doesn't even work...C'MONNN!

The rest of the article more or less can be broken down to the myriad ways in which Al Qaeda are pretty much suck-ass human beings. And while this might be true, we still admitted up front that torture doesn't work, so maybe we should just kind of shelve it as an idea, huh?

But it's really not for you and I to say, and that's my point. These two gentlemen work for the Boss, if ever there was one, and they are actively trying to change the subject. That is pretty much all they ever do. I mostly preserve this here for future generations: Here are some examples of the shitty explanations and rationalizations we had to listen to. Pity us.



Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Are you coming over to the dark side of food service? Godspeed. Waitressing was truly the only job I ever loved. But then again, I'm batshit crazy, so consider the source.
Hope you drew a pretty picture! (snort)

8:03 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Oh no. It would take a lot to drive me back into restau-ranting. The wholesale collapse of the entertainment industry, maybe.

9:14 AM  

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