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the oppression of a part-time job

Posted on by tyler


the other day i drove through one of those mega-huge 8-lane intersections that car-crazy johnson county is known for, when i saw what i thought (and i indeed verified) was a crazy dude in a bright orange shirt dancing around on the street corner with a fake guitar. at first glance this looked like any other "free spirit" getting their groove on in public, probably talking aloud to themselves about the arrival of the mothership. to the contrary, i deduced after a couple of seconds of gawking while driving in heavy traffic that this was indeed a gainfully employed person making a public fool out of themselves for what is likely less than a living wage. to be more specific, the guitar was made to look like a pizza, which was actually kinda cool, but i digress.

this is not the first time i have seen such ridiculous spectacles for employment. some wacky tax company in kansas city has people dress up like the statue of liberty and wave at potential tax customers driving down the street, and i think i've seen the actual little caesar's dude more than once on a street corner. there are other characters that currently escape my memory.

i don't think i need to go into too much detail about how sad and degrading this situation must be, and what a cheap marketing ploy it is, but to make my point clear, indulge me a bit if you will. in a system of veritable wage slavery, suffering a part time job is torturous enough. at full-time hours, these jobs do not produce a living wage (enough compensation to pay rent, bills, food, transport, insurance, etc) and are often meaningless drudgery to most employees. i say "veritable wage slavery" because people desiring a "normal" life are forced to conform to such a system to survive with some level of comfort. what realalternative is there?

back to the point. a normal part-time job at little caesars is enough pain without adding the humiliation of dancing around wildly in public with a guitar announcing $5 pizzas or whatever special it said. maybe that dude enjoyed it, but i just felt embarrassed and mad for his sake. i felt mad at little caesar's for feeling that this is a smart marking strategy (but maybe it is, which is sad also) -- smart enough to justify those kind of shenanigans. i feel mad at a system/situation that causes people to feel like they need to subject themselves to that kind of a job to pay the bills. i can't decide if it's more sustainable or compassionate to have that guy making a fool of himself, or for me to get a pile of pizza mailers in my mailbox each week. that shouldn't be pondered anyway because little caesar's will do both of course.

the final issue i have with this kind of marketing ploy is that it's dangerous. i gawked most of the way through the busy intersection trying to figure out what the mini-spectacle was all about. hard telling how many other people did the same thing while talking on their cell phones and punching in gps coordinates.

[ an article on a similar situation in sioux city iowa. i don't care if the guy seems to enjoy it; it still reeks of exploitation to me. ]