1. AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 34 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. Now, I’m told, the alleged negotiation has gone so far sideways that it’s been sent to binding arbitration. Resolution to that could literally take years. So, we’re going to be grinding along for the foreseeable future with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. I’m sure someone could make the case that there’s enough blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 34 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing to deliver for their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) and for continuing to stand in the way like some bloody great, utterly misguided roadblock. No one’s interest is served by their continued intransigence. The elected “leaders” of AFGE Local 1904 should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.
2. Going vegetarian. My most recent trip to the doctor involved one of his more humorous suggestions. He ended our visit recommending that I consider going vegetarian. Look, I don’t hate vegetables. I eat a lot of them. But thinking I’m going to opt for a lettuce and tomato sandwich sans bacon this summer ranks well into foolish and wrong territory. He obviously saw the twinkle in my eye, because he then hedged his bets a bit, calling for foods with reduced sugar and salt. OK, I’m not so set in my ways that I object to swaps and adds on spec. Most mornings I’m home start out with a cup of Greek yoghurt and a banana or other fruit. This week I opted to try the “zero sugar” option produced by my favorite yoghurt brand. I might as well have spooned wallpaper paste directly into my mouth. Throughout the day I’ve also been known to throw a handful of peanuts or cashews into my gaping maw from time to time. Fine. I’ll get the unsalted version. Yeah. For all the flavor there, I could just have easily saved my money and gone outside to eat a handful of dirt. I’m sorry doc, but when I’m deciding what to eat, taste and flavor is a pretty damned big deal. You’re never going to convince me to join the “food is fuel” crowd when food is so many other things too.
3. Writer’s strike. There’s apparently been a writer’s strike happening in Hollywood for most of this month. I won’t even pretend to be educated on the reasons for or against. As a consumer of content, I might have reasonably expected to have noticed that there was a strike happening by now. It turns out I don’t watch all that much “new” content. When I’ve been intentionally watching the screen, I’ve been doing a slow re-watch of The Sopranos and Mad Men these last few weeks. As for live television piped into my home by old fashioned cable, my set is usually parked on channels that air reruns of shows with season upon season of episodes available or BBC News to put some background noise in the house. Maybe the writers are victims of their past success. At the rate I’m going I could keep going for a decade before I realize no “new” material was hitting the airwaves. I’m probably an outlier, but with my particular givens, I’m not sure a WGA strike is going to have the impact the writers are hoping to see.
I read an article this morning calling for a 90-day or longer “rent strike,” which seems to be a classed-up way of saying even if someone can afford to pay their rent, they’re not going to do it. The assumption of this movement is that property owners across the country should just absorb the cost of housing for people who can’t or won’t pay.
Until a few months ago I was the smallest of small time landlords – having one condo unit that I rented out. Over the years of owning the place I squirreled away enough operating funds that I was able to make repairs and hold two or three months cash reserve to tide over those months between the departure of one tenant and the arrival of the next. In my very best year, I cleared $1495. Most other years I was lucky to break even or be a few hundred dollars in the black when we did the final accounting. There were more than a few years when I had to augment the rental income with cash infusions from my “day job” to make sure all the bills got paid.
That’s all a long way of saying that expecting landlords across the country to carry the freight of a rent strike indefinitely is absurd. Even assuming the property owner has a “day job” what they’re suggesting would have driven me into the loving embrace of the bankruptcy court at about the ninety day mark.
The big bad landlord these people want to screw over isn’t only the 10,000-unit holding company or Bank of America, it’s also the retiree who lives down the street or the working man across town who took a step on the property ladder by buying a trashed property and fixing it up. I’m well aware that blood from a stone isn’t a possibility, but the fact that social media is running amok with people who want to portray withholding all rent, especially by those who have the means to keep their obligations, as a heroic act of rebellion is just infuriating.
1. Surprise meetings. Some things happen without any warning – earthquakes, tornados, someone punching you in the throat for being stupid – all things that could theoretically happen out of nowhere. What shouldn’t happen out of nowhere is calling someone out of the blue after sitting on the material they gave you a month ago to tell them they have four hours to make a shit ton of changes and present that information to the Grand High Host of the Everlasting Knowitall. If you’ve had something for a month and just getting around to telling someone you’re going to need it completely changed later that day, it’s not a “no notice event,” you’re just a douchebag.
2. Fast food strikes. I flipped burgers for $4.15 an hour. When I see on the news that the “me” of today think they deserve $15 an hour for doing that job, I mostly just roll my eyes. When I hear they’re going to take the day to picket their employer demanding $15 and hour and a union, well, I nearly fall down laughing. In the 5 years I was associated with the burger flipping segment of the economy, I never once contemplated the value of my efforts being worth anything close to $15 an hour. The idea of signing up for Burger Flippers and Fry Cooks Local #209 never even crossed my mind. Unless you’re looking at a management track or life in corporate, I’d not recommend considering McDonald’s or its ilk as a long term career opportunity. We should be incentivizing people to move up and out of minimum wage jobs as quickly as possible, not raising the wage so it’s considered just another “lifestyle choice.”
3. Peanut Butter Jelly Time. I’m almost 36 years old and just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of sugar free kool-aid for dinner. There are rare occasions when I really think I suck at being an adult. This would be one of those occasions.