In pro football, the man who tells a rookie or free agent to “bring his playbook,” and see the head coach, because he’s about to be cut from the team, is known as “the turk.” It’s a thankless job but it’s usually happens to young players on the edge of their career.
When it happens in the corporate world, businesses rely on security; they dispense with the cute nicknames.
“The turk” came to my house Tuesday and did not leave it a happy place. My wife, a 20-year employee of a major DFW Fortune 500 corporation, was given her walking papers and kindly escorted from the Human Resources Department to her desk and then to the door – all in the span of an hour. Apparently the number of boxes she filled lengthened the departure; others (hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of others) took far less time to exit. All of them did it quietly even though extra security and police were visible in case someone took the entire experience personally.
As if there was any reason to do so. After all, it was only peoples’ lives at stake; now reduced to mere curious statistics within Internet news stories and blogs.
Twenty years is a long time to remain with one employer. It used to show solidarity with the corporation’s mission and purpose as well as a high degree of competence and skill by the worker. Together, they worked to produce the strong driving economy that brought this nation to the top of the economic mountain.
Today, our country does not sit atop the mountain; we barely can climb the molehill. Corporate greed and malfeasance among our financial institutions has cratered a strong economy into a whimpering shell of its former self. People demand apologies from private school basketball coaches for the outcome of stupid games yet do not seek, with the same ferocity, apologies (plus the tanned and jailed hides) of executives behind this collapse.
They just sit by and wave as the turk passes over their portal, akin to the old Jewish holiday of Passover and the story of the Israelites freed as slaves from Egypt.
Once upon a time in America, longevity and seniority stood for something; it meant quality of work, commitment to the job and devotion to the business that provided the livelihood. Today, all those attributes really don’t mean much. Too many businesses have decided to go as low as the pay scale can allow and employ the notion that damn near any breathing human being can do the same job for half the price – either here or halfway around the world.
And now the practice for so pervasive and so matter-of-fact, it has become its own verb – outsourced. And the bottom line has finally reached that level – the bottom. At least it has in this household.
I have been amused by the notion that job creation through small businesses can erase this burgeoning employment deficit; but in truth, it’s a fallacy. No number of nail salons, donut shops or itty-bitty storefronts can compensate for the wholesale, toxic dumping of the American workforce – wearing blue and white collars. And if the economy is counting on the consumer to spend his-her way out of the oncoming depression, how can that happen when there are fewer and fewer families able to spend anything … because they don’t jobs that really pay?
Now my household is like many, MANY others in this nation, in this state, in this region, in your neighborhood. We sit at the kitchen table and try to sort out what the hell to do now … now that “the turk” has had his say.
Over lunch on Tuesday, I tried to employ the “turk” sports analogy in order to make her feel “better” – if such a thing would be possible. I explained its possible origin going back to author George Plimpton and his seminal work, “Paper Lion,” and how in the movie, “Major League,” a red tag in the player’s locker signified the same thing – a giant “Not Wanted” sign for all to see.
Her eyes began to water up again, a tear for each of her years of service, and asked, “Do they do that for players after 20 years?”
No, dear, not in the America I used to know.