Top photo by Tim Forkes
“We live in a time where everything is for sale. It doesn’t even have to be on the market. Someone just has to offer you the right amount of money to part with something.”
These were some of the first words spoken by the director of operations to me and the employees I work with during a recent zoom meeting. He and the head of Human Resources were letting us know the motel we work at was recently sold and in another six weeks we would be in a state of limbo.
The day before the mandatory meeting, house cleaners, laundry personnel, and front desk employees were wondering what the meeting was about. Since most are under the age of 30, they had no clue what fate awaited them. I thought, “Should I rain on their curiosity or keep my mouth shut?” When a few people began saying things like, “Maybe this means we are getting a pay raise,” I had to speak up.
I let them know nothing good ever comes out of a meeting where two of the higher-ranking people call for it, especially when one is the head of Human Resources. I predicted, “We are either getting a new boss or the property has been sold.” As it turns out, everything is up for sale, even our work site.
Our options were laid out for us. If we remain at the motel until its final date, we get a whopping $250.00 bonus. We can transfer to another one of our current employer’s motels, providing they have an opening, and we have transportation that can get us there. Considering many of my colleagues walk to work, that might be a problem. We can remain at the motel when it changes owners. However, we have yet to meet this person or find out what sort of salaries he intends to pay. That $250.00 bonus will only cover six weeks lost income if a full-time housekeeper sees her salary drop a dollar an hour. What happens if her hours are cut?
Then again, if everything is for sale, do we even know if this new owner looks to keep the motel, or does he intend to flip the property? Afterall, who purchases a two-story motel with three-fourths of the second-floor walkway support posts rotted out by termites? Who purchases a property where the laundry room needs to be rebuilt? Who purchases a motel with the constant plumbing issues we have? Who purchases a motel in a town filled with every low, medium, and high-end chain already here?
In real estate, all that matters is location, location, and location. It turns out our old and dilapidated site sits at a wonderful location. I would think it would yield a terrific price from anyone looking for hard to find land to build anything that does not require the output of money a motel requires while yielding a minimal profit. It just requires someone with enough money to buy the current motel who happens to have the right connections to flip it to a developer who sees the location as something far more profitable.
Whatever that is, you can bet the current staff I work with are not in any of those plans. They are not as fortunate as I am because unlike me, they need the jobs they have. Some have been at the motel for less than two months. Others do not speak English or Spanish and will struggle to find a new employer who will hire them. Our staff, myself included, are essentially the Island of Misfits, easily tossed aside for something newer or shinier. We are that older mutt in the shelter continually passed over for a puppy, hoping someone, anyone, will see our value and take us in.
There’s a saying, “Timing is everything.” Let’s face it, with the holiday season upon us, the timing of this sucks for those who need the work. Before you say to yourself, “Well, maybe these people should have thought about this before they were left without many choices as far as work goes,” just remember this could happen to 99% of Americans.
EVERYTHING is for sale. The hospital you work at is for sale. So are the department stores, car dealerships, restaurants, law firms, fire stations, engineering firms, and waste management companies you might work for. That apartment complex you live in because you cannot afford a house is also for sale. In America, today, it seems everything, including our souls, is up for sale, even if they are not on the market.
I am not angry over this nearly as much as saddened. Forty years ago, in my early 20’s, if I lost a job, I just went out and found a new one the next day. I was lucky to grow up when I did and have access to as much as I had. It’s not that way anymore. What good is a college degree if whoever you work for is up for sale? Today, wages have failed to keep up with inflation. Housing, college, and healthcare costs have skyrocketed. Employers know how to work the system, so they don’t have to offer benefits which forces too many to work second and third jobs. The land of opportunity has become the land for sale.
This also saddens me because unless something drastic happens in the next few years, my generation’s legacy will be leaving the coming generations worse off for the first time in our history. Their earning power, life expectancy, and hope will be less than when the real world awaited my arrival. My messes will be yours to clean up all because we took such a cavalier attitude and concluded EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE.
It is why billionaires are now into space travel. They know space is up for sale. The entire universe is up for sale while we cross our fingers hoping we are not the victims of their greed. It’s too late. We are already victims and if you are of my generation, we are also all to blame. In our pursuit of happiness, we have sold our souls to the financial devil, convinced that if we earn enough money to buy enough stuff, we will be happy. Unfortunately, if you look at the current suicide rate among my generation, we are realizing we were dead wrong. If we succeeded at anything it is having created a world of haves and have nots and most of us are headed for serfdom if we are not already there.
Everything may well be for sale, but I can’t help thinking about one more saying, “Buyer beware.” The sale of our nation does not bode well for its future. As wealth is gobbled up into the greedy hands of fewer and fewer people, it leaves an increasingly bitter taste in the rest of us peasants. It’s not surprising this is happening at a time when unions are declining, the wealthy assert their influence on our elected leaders, and we see our frustrations grow while our hopes fade. A nation that not all that long ago represented all any nation could ever hope to achieve is not being sold nearly as much as stolen from us.
The greatest enemy to freedom is the complacency of its citizens. We have allowed the erosion of our middle class, become too good to do hard work, and put our trust in people so slick and greedy we have not felt the normal pain that comes with the death of our future because we can’t be bothered to put down our damn phones. Those might be the words of a cranky old man, but when was the last time you were able to handle the painful truth?
If I am fortunate, I may well live another thirty years or longer. However, if I do, my fear is I will be known as a part of a generation that not only lived to see the death of communism, but also the death of a nation designed to handle most any political challenge. Unfortunately, our founders failed to see the greed and consolidation of our wealth into an equally select few who have no problem selling us for no reason other than because they can.
FOR SALE: One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.