Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's a mixed bag

As the owner of a company, I deal with many challenges everyday that most people don't deal with. Business owners felt the pinch of the recession earlier than most Americans. We don't have a safety net. If we go out of business, we don't collect unemployment. We don't have health insurance. We work long hours. When someone calls in sick, we fill in. Even when business is slow, we refuse to lay off any workers. Sometimes this means cutting into the family budget. If it means saving a job, we never hesitate. We're not heroes. We don't have super powers. It's all about doing the right thing. There is an ethics to running a business that I think corporate America has completely forgotten about.

I would rather own my own business than do anything else.

Nothing made me appreciate that fact more than today. Today, I took Googs down to a Job Fair that was strictly for seasonal temp work (ie: summer jobs).

The executives of Corporate America need to visit a job fair. They need to see the pain on people's faces. They need to see what they have done to the AMERICAN WORKFORCE.

If you haven't felt the sting of the recession, visit a job fair.

When we pulled up, there were about 50 people outside the building. By the time we parked (a far distance away), there were about 200 people standing outside.

We got in line. As Googs was filling out his job application, I overheard a conversation.

Man: This is for SEASONAL work.

Woman: I know. Just fill out the application. If you're good maybe they will keep you on.

Man: I can't wait for summer! I need a job NOW.

Immediately, I was torn in different directions. Here's my teenage son trying to get a summer job. Here's a man trying to support a family. I look over at the woman taking the applications and she already had one file box completely full of completed applications, and the job fair had only been open for 45 minutes.

I just roll my eyes and think "Oh my god."

Then I think of the hiring managers, who will be keeping some applicants and tossing others aside. Tossing them aside as though the applicants aren't real people, with real families. But, I guess that have to do it that way....otherwise, it would just be too painful.

Frustrated, I saw the man ball up his application and walk out. His girlfriend started shaking her head.

I wanted to run after him and say, "I can help you! I can give you a job!" But I know the reality is that we just can't take on another person. Besides, I'm not that different than the hiring manager going through all those resumes. There are so many people out of work....

How do you choose?

How do you possibly value one person over another?

I want to help.

But, I'm not really that different, am I?

I don't know if Googs will be called for a job.

At this point, I hope he isn't given a position over someone who is choosing between eating and paying their rent.