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Service Industry Blues for the Average Worker

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Thieves triumph and corporate overlords shaft the hard-working. If anything, this cashier's story of robbery at gunpoint lends credence to common cynicism. The saga continues and the real bad guys' occupations should come as no surprise. From violent thugs to white collar jerk-offs, scum comes in all shapes and sizes.

As described in my May 9 article, a North Dallas convenience store was recently knocked off with yours truly serving up corporate cash. I was alone, holding down third shift on my seventh day of work since hire. In a rather lucrative lick, the robbers got $348 for their trouble. Undeniably, the security of that cash was my responsibility. However, demonstrating proper security procedures to a new employee working the high risk shift is the duty of management.

I was scheduled to work the night after the robbery. My boss told me to stay home due to an ongoing corporate investigation into the incident. Before long, I was told by phone when to pick up my first and only paycheck from this douchebag company. Like any company isn't a douchebag.

There are three registers in the store; the robbers ravaged them all. The contents of the two registers left overnight, counted and left in their drawers by second shift every evening, should have been deposited in the drop box. Every extraneous bill in my register should have been dropped, leaving less than $50 in the till. I learn all this well after the robbery. Once the store's first robbery took place, the boss magically became gung-ho about practicing textbook cash-handling procedures. I was fired by corporate for giving the thieves a successful night. To be fair, my boss claimed he contested the firing, and I'm halfway inclined to believe him.

I have to wonder if I put my former coworkers at risk. Surely, that score introduced another hook into the robbers' mouths.

The fact is that I promptly dropped an estimated $1,700 well before the masked men showed up. My transition from training on day shift to working alone on deep nights was rather swift. This training focused on efficiently handling deliveries and making coffee. Quite literally, the only security threat my boss prepared me for was ruthless gangs of scrawny ass, suburban teenagers shoplifting beer. The stories I heard about those hooligans were simply chilling.

Obviously, corporate wanted a sacrificial lamb for a Satanic ritual of course. This wouldn't be the first time I've assumed that position. I learned as much as I could and worked my narrow white ass off–which is typically a mistake in my experience. Those who care are not rewarded; they are exploited.

The stories of millions who get shafted by corporate America just for hitting the time clock go unrecognized. Cashier Angelica Gomez posted her story on the website Find Law for the Public. According to Gomez, she was fired for failing to display the desired level of fear and submissiveness to her shop's owner. In a decision I would attribute to a fondness for dignity, Gomez refused to pick up a pen the owner dropped on the floor. Angered, the owner spoke to the manager, returned to Gomez, and told her she was fired. An attorney posting advice on the website saw no potential for a wrongful termination suit.

A California fast-food cashier was fired for having a register shortage of $30, according to a post on Wrongful Termination Blog. He made an angry phone call to an attorney connected to the blog describing the situation. The cashier had no right to sue, the attorney wrote. A shortage of only $30 is not quite indicatave of theft on the cashier's part and surely there were security cameras. Shortages happen to the best of us. I was once fired for a $50 shortage; courtesy of a short change artist.

A successful cashier with four years of company service to her credit claims she was fired for being pushed too far. Her entry on Find Law for the Public, mentioned "small" problems with the work environment that just added up. A dispute mushroomed, drawing from her a tearful emotional outburst. I've just about been there myself. She was fired for this. Company loyalty never pays off.

"You may well have been unjustly terminated, but that does not mean you have the rights under any theory of law to sue the employer or to contest the termination," attorney Anthony Lourdes de Grasse wrote in response to her story. I wouldn't be surprised if the law granted employers license to kill.

Common American workers need more than a minimum wage increase insisted upon by congressional Democrats for the sake of displaying some glimmer of populist appeal. We need rights and actual representation. As we all know, our arcane legal system is by and for wealth and power. A worker's only right is a lunch break, which I've been denied in the past. In reality, our elected officials will remain comfortably tucked in the top brass' breast pockets, and nobody who matters will ever give a damn.

Perhaps risking a bullet in the face is part of a night cashier's job, just like the builders of the Empire State Building risked a plunge to death. Getting fired for accepting that risk and giving the boss your best effort is not what an honest worker should expect. The moral of the story? When dealing with human trash, one should expect to get burned. To a "cynic," getting screwed also means being vindicated.

The robbers will keep hitting convenience stores, corporations will always violate their workers, and I'll find another $7 job that induces liquor cravings. The service industry freak show carries on as the rest of civilization swaggers by for gasoline and lottery tickets. The bottom of the food chain is sustenance for the rich and insatiable. Robbers will blow your head off, but corporate will eat your children.

Unemployment benefits are a joke. Some Coors would sure hit the spot … a blue mask would really flatter my eyes.

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About Superior To You

  • klondikekitty

    Thanks, Joe, right on, man!! I love the polite words you use to say the boss sucks, and the lawyers suck up to the boss!!
    It would be totally awesome to put a group of 10 lawyers into the menial, degrading $7-an-hour jobs that the rest of us poor slobs are forced to accept in lieu of welfare or homelessness, and see how long they last before they realize what a joke the service industry is to blue-collar America!
    It’s easy to be legally proper and politically correct when you’re living on a six-figure income, so I can understand why they would be reluctant to bite the hand that makes the payments on their Mercedes!!
    Truly you are a voice in the wilderness, crying out for the majority of Americans who are wondering what has become of the middle class!! Rock on, brother, rock on!!

  • Good article. I sure wish it was over in the Politics section where it belongs.

    BTW, if you can write an article like this, I bet you could easily find a job paying way more than $7 an hour. And I’m not talking about th $10 they’re paying at WalMart. Get a data entry or telemarketing job for $12-$15 an hour. You seem more than qualified and they even have late-shift work if that’s what you like.

    Time to escape the hellish cycle of abuse that is the convenience store.


  • bliffle

    The goal of management is to push the profits upward on the ladder and push the risks downward. That makes life hazardous for the lowest workers.

    As for Wrongful Termination suits, The Law regards employment as an “at will” relationship that may be arbitrarily terminated by either party at any time, without notice, without termination pay, etc., just what you’re owed for actual hours served.

    As for judges, they are “reluctant to interfere in the rights of employers”, i.e., when in doubt they decide in favor of employers. And there’s always doubt.

  • I agree with Dave, Joe. But I’d add you might actually have a future in politics. Considering our governor advocates all “law abiding” citizens should be allowed to carry pistols into bars, shurches, schools and hospitals, but nobody should be allowed to smoke in public–anywhere– I have to think we’ve gone down Alice’s rabbit hole. Also considering that one of the mayoral candidate’s solution to crime is to tear down rundown apartments until; the problem is solved, and also considering that the yokels in Farmer’s Branch passed that ordinance holding landlords responsible for illegal immigrants, and considering your own misfortune, I’d say it’s time you become an activist.
    Oh, hell– just run for office.

  • Thanks for the kind words, ladies and gentlemen. Although the voices of reason fall on deaf ears, I won’t be shutting the Hell up anytime soon. Voting is a lost cause, so let’s storm the Bastille and use the governor’s face as an ashtray.