Friday, May 22, 2009

The rest of the story

Last month I shared something unpleasant that happened and made me very angry. I suppose now would be a good to time to tell you the rest of the story.

I was indeed very angry, but I knew I needed to get past that anger in order to do anything productive about the situation. After I cooled off, I realized that going to our local paper or complaining to our local congressperson's office would be a bad move. I know our local city council has been blindsided in the past by issues they would have preferred to be made aware of first, so writing a letter to them seemed like the first step.  I didn't know if the other locals who had been burned by the US Census would agree, but it made sense to me. Remember, the idea is maintain the image of me=good citizen, Census = evil wrongdoers.

But as it turned out, I didn't have to write a letter to the Mayor and the Avalon City Council about this issue.  They were already aware. How you ask?  Well, here's where it gets funny, and I mean like stupid funny. 'Cause really, if someone chooses to burn a group of local residents, not noticing that one of those people just happens to be the Mayor's wife? That takes a special kind of stupid, don't you think?

So...if you want to see what happened next, go here. For easier viewing I will tell you that the fun kicks off at 12:20. Then the person from the Regional Census Office, (we'll call her "Corporate Carmen") gets up and starts weaseling around at 20:10. And as you'll see, she did a fine job of that - never answering any questions directly and essentially pointing the finger in every direction except her own staff. Which was a colossal mistake on her part. I firmly believe that if she had just stood up and admitted that a mistake had been made, took responsibility for the mistake, apologized, and then explained clearly and concisely what she could offer at that point in time - it would have been all over in about five minutes. But that's not how it happened.

Some might say she misspoke or danced around the truth, I'd take it a step further and say that what she said isn't the truth at all. And we have a word for that, don't we? I could err on the side of kindness, and suggest that she spoke out of ignorance, and just didn't have all the facts. Which is where I come in, at 36:31.  Bear with me here, and please be kind - I had no advance notice of the meeting and rushed over there moments before it started. I'm sure if I'd had a chance to prepare my thoughts would have been more organized and I wouldn't have sounded like such an idjit.

If you watch through to the end of that section, you'll see that others got up and spoke after me. I give them credit for having he guts to do it - I know I was sweating bullets up at that podium! But there were a few that just sat in the audience, and in the back corner where they wouldn't even show up on camera. I'm not quite sure what I think about that, I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.  Then Corporate Carmen spoke one more time, and then I did again after that, and it was clear that nothing would be resolved there, so everyone involved did as the council requested, and moved our discussion outside.

Somehow, even though I was sitting furthest from the door, I was the first one outside and Corporate Carmen immediately turned to me, put out her hand to shake, and offered her apology for what had occurred. I accepted her apology, but I informed her that it would have meant a whole lot more to me and others if she had spoken that apology inside the council chambers, while still on camera. She also asked me if I was interested in taking the very short-term job of just a few days they were able to offer. I said yes, I wanted whatever work I could get - but asked the obvious question, "How do I trust you?"  I never received an answer to my question, which I guess basically answers the question, doesn't it? 

The end result was that I (and a few other locals) worked for the US Census Bureau for all of ten days. Which is a hell of a lot less than the 10-12 weeks in the original job offer, but better than nothing at all. I also suggested to Corporate Carmen that she contact the local newspapers and ask them to run something about those of us who did get work and why, but apparently she wasn't interested in my advice. So the only info out there is what occurred during the council meeting.  And during the days we were working, we repeatedly bumped into the issue in a variety of ways, with a variety of attitudes.  "Oh yeah, you're the one who got MY job". "Hey, if you're counting people, make sure you count my wife. She was one of the people who was SUPPOSED to get a job". You get the idea. I don't want to imagine how many people think that I only got the job because I spoke up at the meeting, like the squeaky wheel getting the grease. The truth is simply that of the people who took the application exam and passed the background check, I had one of the top three highest scores.  Not surprising considering the amount of time I've spent taking exams in the last several months! 

Along with the paychecks that the federal government will be depositing into my account I got this:

The mug is going to the thrift shop (if they'll take it!) but the bag has potential. It was filled with nifty useful things like notepads, pens, paperclips, and post-its, and it's a useful cloth bag. I'm not particularly fond of the idea of carrying around a bag with the census logo on it so I'm wondering if it can be painted over? Any crafty ideas for this? Now that I'm unemployed again, I appear to have a little time on my hands!


Anonymous said...

oh well hey, just a mug and t-shirt just make up for it alllll....

puhleese! But good for you for sticking up for what's right.. !!!


Carolyn (Harbor Hon) said...

Sorry, my computer isn't strong enough to let me watch the proceedings, but I'm sure you did just fine. As to the tote bag? Pick your favorite piece of fabric that will cover it and stitch it on. Other than that, just turn the bag's logo towards you so the other side shows only. xxoo

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow. I don't even have words. Good on you for standing up though! You're my hero.

Sheepish Annie said...

Good for you for stepping up! It would have been easy to just say, "Oh, well. I didn't get enough notice to go and say something. I'll just forget about it..." I'm glad you got at least a bit of work out of the whole thing. Plus that sweet tote bag! It does have potential, I'll admit. Maybe you could just embroider over the whole thing?

I know. I can't embroider either. It was just one of those thoughts...

Pat said...

How about a stamp in the shape of a footprint and some fabric paint? Walk all over them.