After working briefly at a hardware rental place a couple summers later, I spend the last couple years of high school working at McDonalds with a few friends.
In college, I spent time working at a video store, a gymnastics establishment, a big and tall man clothing store, and the last couple years before graduation at a gift shop chain at various hotels in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Never once in all that time did it occur to me that I was entitled to anything more from the owners of those businesses than the wage to which we voluntarily agreed.
Never once did it dawn on me that if I missed a day of work due to sickness, that not only should they pay someone else to cover for me, or the owner take time out of his or her schedule to do so, but they should also pay me for not being there.
Back then, when I was just starting out in the world of paid employment, the only political-type issue that was important to me was protesting the censorship of the music that I listened to.
Apparently I was naïve for not realizing that if I complained loudly enough, I could possibly lay claim to the resources of others. If only I had the nerve, I could have essentially looked my bosses in the eyes and said “I know you’ve been at this longer than I have, saved up enough money and put your butt on the line to take a risk on a business idea, but I think I should be paid much higher than the going rate even while I’m out sick.”
How wet-behind-the-ears I was!
Full disclosure: I didn’t have kids when working such jobs. But since they have come along, I know what it’s like when they fall ill. Not only do I ache for them, but I too fret about leaving work. I don’t like taking sick time at all.
Alas, I’m not the best example. My wife on the other hand, is/was.
When she was a single mom working in restaurants, one of the worst things that could happen to her was her pre-school son getting sick. Fortunately, shifts could be traded. It was a good thing, too, because she didn’t have the type of family support network that permeates San Antonio. And, she had proven herself worthy of not simply being replaced due to something as natural as a child feeling under the weather.
Still, she didn’t have the audacity to demand compensation during her absence.
Fortunately for these folks today, they have advocates who possess as little business experience as they do, to push elected officials that are too often as similarly inexperienced (though not as much here as in places like Seattle), to make this a reality; making low-to-moderate-skilled jobs as comfortable as possible to take the edge off maybe training for a higher-paying job one day down the line, like my wife did in putting herself through college at the time.
When exactly was it that we started feeling so entitled to the property of others? Was it before, or not until, we were told that such business owners “didn’t build that?”
The opposition, as indicated by Michelle Tremillo in Sunday’s Express-News, is not solely “groups well-funded by national and corporate interests,” but rather others of us brought up in similar socioeconomic situations in South Texas (Victoria), who respect those who have sacrificed a stable livelihood to strike out on their own, the result of which has been the opportunity of employment for others.
I agree with Ms. Tremillo when she says it’s a moral issue. If these activists are so confident about this, perhaps they should put their own money where their mouth is and show current business owners how it’s supposed to be done in the competitive free market. Lobbying to use the force of law is a lame, immoral tack to take when they have nothing to lose in doing so.