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▶  More from Harm City The Ghetto Grocer When Your Job Sucks
On Immigrant Labor
The Butthole Surfer Lays Down the Work Glove before the Ghetto Grocer

Think about the jobs you need done around the house, the goods you need produced, and the jobs you need help with at work. Then go through your mental white rolodex and ask yourself who you could pay to do them. My friend is a union electrical foreman and says the work ethic sucks now, so it's not just the bottom or top of the labor scale. It's the same problem as finding a suitable husband for one of your wife's decent friends. Which of the men you know would make a suitable husband for, say, your sister or one of your wife's friends?

James, maybe bump this? We need to have this discussion out, at least in my mind.

-PR the Butthole Surfer

PR, I was once asked if I’d be the roving human resources trainer for a supermarket chain and I blurted, “As soon as all the labeling is bilingual!”

My entire life growing up, I had friends telling me how lazy black people were, that they just would not get a job and when they did they were slackers. I was being told this by rural and suburban white men, men who didn’t even know any black people, who largely worked their own businesses or had unionized jobs in long established paper, coal and steel plants—jobs that went away with this generation of men.

Once I moved to Baltimore I found out that nearly all men who do not own their business and do not work in resource extraction or in gross manufacturing have a horrible work ethic. 8 out of 10 white men in Northeast Baltimore, where my boss drew his labor from, were pathologically lazy. Half of these were addicts and drunks. What glued them together as a unit was that they knew, even though we worked at night lifting and slotting stuff—a job you have to think and sweat through at the same time and which half of humans are incapable of doing because they can’t move and catalog at the same time—that they were working at the bottom of the economy, in a service industry, just moving stuff around that other people grew, harvested, made and shipped and still other people wanted.

In this situation—and I did not understand it then—the Anglo-American slave mentality kicked in, the same slave mentality that has fueled celebrity worship, spectator addiction and rampant materialism. I was forced to fire entire crews en masse and still other men would quit with them to go to the bar and then sleep it off under a woman’s roof—either mother, sister or mate. I once waited with five men outside the store to open up and deactivate the alarm, for John to pull up in his wife’s black Ford Escort and saw him pull into Rick’s bar across the street! At 7 a.m. his wife called me up and wanted to know when he would be getting off work.

Although, at that time a man could still make a good living as a grocer [which came to an end around 1998 due to Walmart] these men all felt humiliated. To them real men worked as their fathers and grandfathers had, in dangerous factories, building houses—in the trades. Well, in the early 80s the trades were getting real selective.

Soon the Old Man said, “Jimmy, I’m going to have to start hiring darkies. We’ve went through every man in the area and all I have for applicants are darkies from downtown.”

“No problem, Mister Len,” I said and did my best. I was initially shocked to find that the men he was hiring were twice my age—older black guys, who were mostly excellent workers with a strong ethic, but harbored a resentment for being bossed by a young cracker. I managed to get their respect and things went well for a while. Then the great monstrous shadow that is Black Urban America swallowed them up one-by-one: shot, arrested for murder, beat-up by wife and embarrassed to show his face, in violation of parole, arrested on the way to work for being black and uses his only phone call to phone whatever woman is housing him, who calls him a "worthless nigger," declines to call me, won't bail his ass out, and he tells me this a few months later when we meet on the bus stop, etc.

Younger black men began to apply and be hired, and as the years ground on and they got younger they got lazier. I was now into a work force that had all been raised without a man in the house, had a typical employee who lived with a woman and shared her car and her job was always more important than his, so he had to call out when she worked overtime. Every month, each clerk would have a funeral to attend to and miss work or come in late and drunk because a “cousin” had been shot down dead on the street.

In the end, after winnowing out about 150 drunk whites and criminal blacks, I ended up with the only kind of crew that is sustainable: retirees, small business owners looking for supplemental income, and the transitional loser who cycle in and out on monthly tours, a crew of chronically unemployed man-children carried by a core of over-employed men.

To name a couple, there was Earl Stackhouse, former track and field star who worked two jobs and bought and renovated and rented houses, and Israel Flood, a 65-year-old former sharecropper who did the same, and also had a string of 20-year-old girlfriends. I interviewed these men about Black Baltimore and they told me they were among the last of their kind, that it was too dangerous to rent in drug land [Israel lost about ten teeth to a pipe wielded by one of 5-7 thugs who he fought off on the street outside one of his rentals in Park Heights] and that the future was going to be scorched-earth section eight, then bulldozers, and then gentrification…

Except for small businessmen like Earl and Israel, and my paleface friends like Dante and Steve, who all had their own businesses, white and black men in Baltimore are a dead letter, alternately cry babies and psychotics, mamma’s boys and deadbeat dads.

Migrant Labor

Parallel to this I observed the life cycle of the floor tech business. Most supermarkets are filthy, but all of the floors must shine, because eye appeal is buy appeal and our idiot customers equate shine with cleanliness.

A typical small market spends $1500 a week to have its floors shined, as much as it spends on Assistant Store Director or meat manager.

-Up until 1992, this job was done by small businessmen of the Caucasian kind.

-From 92-98 blacks did this work.

-From 98-2000 Eastern Europeans did this work. I recall one Russian who had owned a trucking company in Georgia—not the state, the nation—and befriended me. The last thing I heard from him was from the Deputy Sheriff of a small Pennsylvania town who wanted to know if I would come and bail him out for beating up some rednecks…

-Since 2000 floor work has been done by Latinos, with Peruvians and Brazilians owning the service contracts and Mexicans, Salvadorans and Brazilians doing the work.

PR, I have come to the conclusion that American society is toxically infected with the slave mentality virus and that the only productive and honorable employees are:

1. Outcasts and weirdo types, who you can’t promote to leadership positions

2. Immigrants, who have not yet been infected by our societal rot

3. Overachievers who are headed for better things than working for you, hopefully starting their own outfit.

4. Retired persons like myself.

I did eventually workout a formula for staffing a 100-person grocery store from these four viable manpower pools, with the only stress involving weeding out the worthless indigenous Americans who believe with every fiber of their being that they are entitled to everything, regardless of the quantity or quality of their contribution towards that goal.

From a nationalistic perspective—I’m speaking hypothetically here, as I am an inmate, not a member of the United States—I think the best solution would be to invite resident alien labor for renewable terms of employment, with the proviso that they might retire in the host country only after their last term of consecutive employment [we’re talking a 50-year commitment for young people], but if they did not work in the host country up until retirement age, they would have already returned to their home country for lack of work or unwillingness to continue working in the host country. I imagine employment agencies could handle the contracting without involving the government. Indeed, many mid-sized companies are currently farming out their Human Resources to temp agencies. This seems to be happening in some form out west. When in Colorado with Ishmael, all of the businesses near the tourist attractions had Latino and Russian staff—a cute Romanian chick too, in Cooke City Montana of all places. This was her summer job as she was a college student in Romania.

Keep in mind that the greatest pitfall in hiring and training Americans is that when you finally wean them off into a management position they expect to be a hands off potentate and do nothing—the slave envy of the slave master rotting the workplace hierarchy at the core. In my business, in retail, this rot is at the top, with management of larger chains wedded to the ideal that labor labors and management thinks and communicates, taking away any chance of management leading by example, constantly crippling the chain of action: an army with only grunts, sergeants and brass, with no lieutenants, the employee unwilling to work so that others might profit, the supervisor busting his ass to make management, and the new high performer that makes it into management being told to sit back and relax and decide what’s for lunch—one man in ten doing most of what matters and him squashed between the two antagonistic halves of the monolithic American Slave Mentality.

In conclusion internal recruiting for labor, skilled or unskilled, is very tough in an entitlement-based society, with the existence of these very entitlements driving the need for imported labor. The welfare state is a societal suicide machine that seems well-greased. If one were a cynic one might think this is by design—but not me, PR—time to write that Romance Novel...

When Your Job Sucks

Add Comment
Sam J.February 18, 2017 3:32 AM UTC

"...after having refused all middle management, because I knew they don't pay what it's worth..."

I hate being the boss, foreman whatever.You never get paid enough for the hassles. I don't really like telling people what to do and they never do what you tell them anyways so it's always this stupid battle which nothing to do with actually getting the job done. I REALLY hate working with people who you have tell them ever damn thing to do or they will just sit there. And these damn phones make it worse as some people will look at their phones all day.

The best jobs I ever had were technical service type jobs where I went and repaired stuff by myself and just dealt with customers which I'm fine with as they just want their stuff fixed. Some were a pain but I found that's mostly because they don't know what I'm doing and felt like I could be ripping them off. I found that patiently explaining exactly what I was doing, what steps need to be done and roughly how long it would take would assure them.
Sam J.February 18, 2017 3:20 AM UTC

Thanks very much for answering my questions James.

"...zambonie, modified for floors..."

Yeah me too. I looked around. They have such a think but it's VERY expensive. Like a cheap SUV.

I think you might could make one of these out of a riding lawnmower. Adapt the lawnmower to propane. Put no skid solid tires on.

Have to think about this a little.
PRFebruary 17, 2017 10:31 PM UTC

Thank you James and others for your excellent comments which I obviously agree with. I am some combination of 1 and 3. I have been in charge (command, rather) of up to 50 young men and found 1-3 to be the best workers. In the private sector, I seem to run into 4 most often.

I am obviously posting this as a lament. Our supply chains of labor have been re-routed from the United States to foreign countries. This is a chicken-and-egg sort of problem. Americans see work as beneath them which causes employers to look elsewhere which causes some hard-working Americans to have trouble finding jobs.
IsmaelFebruary 16, 2017 10:02 AM UTC

Sam, I envision a scaled down zambonie, modified for floors.
Sam J.February 16, 2017 1:24 AM UTC

I've been both a owner, foreman and employee. I understand what you're saying but I do believe that today, like they used to say in the Soviet Union, "They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work". You're average worker is treated like shit and is not paid enough to live on. Maybe enough to survive but they'll never get ahead.

If Trump gets rid of all the aliens then I think it's possible that pay will go up enough to where people will feel like they might actually get somewhere and then they will begin to give a shit. It's hard to get any enthusiasm about a lifetime future.

I can't remember where I read it but I read an article about a farmer who couldn't get any good workers and he kept raising his pay and I think he said at $18 an hour he got a whole bunch of people who came to work and worked out. Where as before he was at around $12 an hour and got no where.

You yourself have complained how you can barely make ends meet. If pay was higher maybe you could. Most of the service economy barely pays enough to eat and keep yourself clothed.
responds:February 16, 2017 9:27 AM UTC

To your wage point, Sam, I went to the top of the bottom feeder grocery biz in 2006 after having refused all middle management, because I knew they don't pay what it's worth.

In 1992 I made 11.40 per an hour at union grocery job. If I hired on through that union right now, I would be mandated by union contract to start at 8.50 per an hour and top out around 11 after three years of gradual pay hikes. On the other hand, I am happy making ends meet on 10.50 per an hour at this non-union gig because I know that's what they can afford. The stores don't make any money. Grocery stores just keep people in work, with 1 in 3 losing money, 1 I 3 breaking even and 1 in 3 making money. A mandatory minimum wage, for instance, of 15, which has been floated in Baltimore, would shut down or drive out of town the remaining independent grocers. the only way to go is downsizing and going bulk volume box store and cutting down staffing needs.

The people making money are on the product in.
Sam J.February 16, 2017 1:07 AM UTC

"...A typical small market spends $1500 a week to have its floors shined..."

I'm VERY interested i this James. Could I bother you for some info? How many times a week polished @ $1,500 a week? How many square feet is the store at that price(even a rough guess would be something, figure roughly a yard per full step maybe)? I see a buffer that will do 25,000 square feet per hour? How long does it take to do a grocery store? Are they using a regular buffer by hand? Do they strip it then wax and buff?

I think I might could build a machine you ride on like a lawnmower to do this. I've seen propane buffers. Is that what they use?
responds:February 16, 2017 9:33 AM UTC

My most recent rice was 1400 a week for a 30,000 square foot store, a small store. The equipment used is a filthy dust broom, scrubbing machine, a mop for edging and a propane powered buffer which liquefies dirt and wax and casts it into the salad bar, goos up the base plates of the shelves and coats all bottom shelf goods that sit for a few weeks.

Stripping and waxing is a separate charge and needs a crew, whereas one guy takes 4-5 hours to do the regular cleaning. Our guy is pretty good and also cleans the bathrooms and stockroom floor. Some techs can do this in 3 hours. I would prefer they worked six and did it right. The sweeping is neglected before and after and should be more thorough, but America is about price, and getting it right comes second.

Good luck Sam J.

I much preferred the old electric walk behind buffs because they didn't go so high speed and burn tiles and cast goo like the current standard.
IshmaelFebruary 15, 2017 5:21 PM UTC

Fine article, you nailed it James, wasn't it Lynn that mentioned lazy white boys? As a young apprentice, the best boss I ever worked for, sweat half a day just like we did, right beside us, was to work hour early, left hour after we had gone home, that is why they paid him the most, hard man to work for but would have done anything he ask, why? Respect! Treated everyone fair no favorites, in fact his friends were expected to work the hardest! Being a example.
Jeremy BenthamFebruary 15, 2017 2:56 PM UTC

"In the United States people abolish slavery for the sake not of the Negroes but of the white men...When a century had passed since the foundation of the colonies, an extraordinary fact began to strike the attention of everybody. The population of those provinces that had practically no slaves increased in numbers, wealth and well-being more rapidly than those that had slaves...On the left bank of the Ohio (Kentucky) work is connected with the idea of slavery, but on the right (Ohio) with well- being and progress; on the one side it is degrading, but on the other side it is honorable; on the left bank no white laborers are to be found, for they would be afraid of being like the slaves; for work people must rely on Negroes; but one will never see a man of leisure on the right bank; the white man's intelligent activity is used for work of every sort. Hence those whose task it is in Kentucky to exploit the natural wealth of the soil are neither eager nor instructed, for anyone who might possess those qualities either does nothing or crosses over into Ohio so that he can profit by his industry and do so without shame." - Alexis De Tocqueville, "Democracy in America", VOL. I, Part II, Chapter Ten, "The Three Races that inhabit the United States”, 1838.