I fuss with the sales associates who try to move me to the automatic checkout. I keep telling them that the machines will take their jobs. The young workers smile and say, “Yeah…” They accept it. I sigh. At such times I scream (in my head) “Am I the only one in the room wearing glasses?”

Unemployment numbers are high, homelessness has increased, and prices for food have skyrocketed. At the same time, huge numbers of people line up for the privilege to pay high prices for the latest tech toys and/or to see the sequels and prequels to movies that were made over a decade ago! I admit it is a confusing scenario… Is the US economy up or down? Who do you believe?

I will add to your confusion. Welcome to my world.

9/11 happened and we the people were devastated. Employers seized the moment and thus began the downward slide of the US worker. First we saw layoffs of airline workers. Initially I recall reading and hearing that airline workers devastated by the events of 9/11 and were leaving the industry. The airlines didn’t wait for attrition to occur; instead they moved quickly to cut jobs. Not only were the jobs lost but also severance packages. We the people were exhausted and traumatized. We didn’t see what was happening to worker status. But the employers did. They quietly and quickly followed the airline industry’s lead, and the tradition of severance packages seemed to fade away.

Then the most remarkable thing happened. US employers decided to relocate outside the US. Actually they deserted the US en masse. How strange! You would think these companies would decide to stay home where they could be protected. But instead they followed their hearts/profits to countries with cheap labor, and sometimes to countries with questionable alliances.

Technological innovation has reduced the remaining number of jobs in the US. These “innovators” tell us that these changes will create new jobs and give us more time for leisure. They urge us to enter the world of the jobless economy. But we already know that many of our workers are unprepared for the newly created jobs. And leisure doesn’t buy food, or pay the rent. A new class division is created: the “have jobs” and the “have no jobs.” It appears that the employment/unemployment statistics are “lost” or at least jumbled in translation. After all, a jobless economy does not generate unemployment reports.

So I am in line waiting for the 40 something cashier to total my purchases. A 20 something clerk asks if I would prefer the automatic check out. I explain I will not cross that line today, I am saving a job.

Then I look up and see… I am the only one wearing glasses.


Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. JC prefers different and original over pretty. She loves collecting stuff, but cleaning not so much. Janet also talks to strangers… a lot. Her column appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.