I have no idea where the labor theory of value fits into any of this

As I begin this screed, I’m freshly failed out of a three-day training and evaluation course on PCI-compliant corporate data entry. In layman’s terms, this means playing office until someone in management decides that you’re too much of a walking SNAFU to play office on the company dime anymore. Since I was put through this purgatorial mind-wringer by a reputable company, I’ll be getting paid for my trouble, and as always, I welcome the money and the cash. How much I’ve earned per hour I should be able to calculate from my pay stub in a week and a half. No one’s told me yet, and one of my buddies from the class, who failed out several hours before I did, told me that payroll threw shade on him when he walked over on one of his breaks to ask when the next payday was.

The wage I was offered for production work was $10.60 per hour, including a $.50 swing shift differential. This differential is less than *CHAKA CAN CHAKA CAN*, and the total hourly wage is a bit less than a dollar an hour over the minimum wage. My recruiters didn’t tell me whether these bonuses apply to training as well as production, and I didn’t think to ask. My trainers probably didn’t know what the hell their bosses were paying me, so I didn’t feel like bothering them with more questions that they couldn’t answer.

From what I could tell, management was desperate to fill these data entry positions. My buddy above was shooed over to data entry when he asked for a call center position, and he has recent call center experience from an AT&T contractor boiler room in Eugene. The training material we completed centered around intricate data entry assignments using a complicated, unintuitive database system with a tendency to disappear completed orders beyond our reach. On the floor, we were told, the company could be fined ten grand every time one of us failed to black out a bank card number with special eight-dollar Japanese blackout markers that have to be checked out from keyholders at the start of shift and checked back in at the end.

The positions we were training for are seasonal and benefit-ineligible, and the company is trying to staff up for a rush of holiday orders, which regularly more than quadruples the size of its workforce. How the work I’ve mercifully been denied the opportunity to do is worth more or less a dollar over minimum wage is, as they say, above my pay grade. I heard that they’re trying to put recruits with no Excel experience at all into the follow-up Excel training class that I would have taken had I passed the initial training. That class involves assembling order sheets with several hundred items apiece. This is work that a diligent person can fuck up. Depending on how parsimonious Freddy is, it may or may not pay better than being a pump jockey at Fred Meyer. There are definitely better paid cashier positions around here. I’ll have to keep an eye on the recycling bins, too; I don’t want to write them off as always paying less than the brain-scrambling shit that I’ve been doing for the last three days.

I had faint regrets about signing up for that shit within an hour or two on day one, but I didn’t want to bitch about it to anyone outside the class. This was partly in the interest of avoiding situations in which *VERY ROBERT WAPLE HATE-FUCKING THE HELP VOICE* yeah, about that FA job, enjoy your no-job no-money life. That was a minor consideration, though; I wasn’t working for fuck-asses. I was really just trying to keep up the motivation not to flame out right away. On the second and third days, I had more and more fears that I’d end up swamped to hell by my workload on the floor and then fired for producing too little and tying up the floor managers too much. It was seriously fucking difficult work that we were assigned in training. We got half an hour or an hour of company origin myth videography on the first day, featuring bullshit about some dude flying a lapful of fresh fruit to New York on a Ford Trimotor and hitting the pavement to pitch his shiznit to the foo-foo restaurants of the Great Depression. After that, we, too, hit the pavement. I did so mainly with my head.

Bank tellers earn similarly shitty pay for work that’s roughly as sensitive, and somehow they’re always dolled up. I’ve been told that they obviously ruin their own finances with this vanity. I’ve also been told that they do it to impress financially eligible customers whom they hope to marry, since they have access to all that customer financial data. Who the hell was I gonna marry from that class? There’s no way some dead-sexy heiress was about to show up looking for cute, downwardly mobile fat guys. I’ve had better prospects in the berry fields.

By the way, picking blueberries piece-rate is, dollar for dollar, much easier than this training class that I just failed. Yes, I’m fully accounting for both pay scales. The popular mythology about office jobs is that they’re safe harbors for jerkoffs. We have unctuous TV shows and movies about that. I guess I was being trained for one of the productive positions financially enabling putz retention at higher levels of the economy.

It’s fixing to really suck for those who made the cut in training. These sound like nothing better than shitty, underpaid jobs. Shit’s flying every which way on the floor, and it will be for the rest of the season. No level of professionalism and decency in management can compensate for the workloads that are apparently being dumped on my quasi-colleagues. I’m not even sure that I want to go back to the employment office and ask for an internal transfer for the season. All I know is that I want my bosses to immediately recruit Robert Waple for data entry and, when he fails out of training with a violent gracelessness that I came nowhere close to achieving, congratulate him for no longer having that fuck-ass job. My bosses don’t need a thing like that, but Waple could fucking use it.

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