Friday, September 16, 2016

On Labor Day, Wilbo Remembers His Years as a Member of a Labor Union That Shrugged its Shoulders Rather Than Fight for His Fellow Teachers and He.

We have arrived at the last stop of summer, Labor Day, the last day of a three day weekend. I arrive at this Monday heavily conflicted. Labor Day is a holiday celebrating the union movement in America. I haven't held the union card since 1996. In 1996, the Detroit Federation of Teachers heard about the layoff of my class of teachers and read the school board's reason, "economic necessity". The DFT said, "Okay then". The very next Monday, I began almost two decades of consulting in information technology. I didn't return to the classroom until April of this year, in a role that even the unions won't organize, the role of guest teacher. I could go in tomorrow, just fire up the online booking application and pick a gig. I am on my second beer at Pigeon Hill, counting the Luce for Sheriff and Dennis Murphy for Congress tee shirts, and wondering if I can put on socks and a nice shirt and face the kids. I am sure I have knowledge and wisdom to offer. I just despair that I'll have to be so clever and wise just to earn a hearing. My friend bought me a beer to drink as I think about that possibility, to actually be empowered for a day to do what I attended college to do. The alternative is to spend the day in the gig economy, booking small jobs of even five minutes duration, which I have done since May, over one thousand times taking people from all walks of life from point A to point B. The conversations themselves have nourished my imagination. For example, I drove Dr. Cider from Michigan State from a residence hall to his flat off Michigan street, and he told me all about the plans for the Michigan Hard Cider industry. I have driven entertainers to venture capitalists this summer. It's given me much to contemplate.

In many ways, at almost fifty-three, the cradle to grave guarantee of America has run out for me, and I refuse to go to my grave willingly. So, "Quid Nunc"? That's Latin for "What's Next"? I'm hungry. Thankfully, because of my participation in the gig economy, I can afford lunch. I've been a starving artist many times, but I've always gone to the grocery store.

No comments: