Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'


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So I’ve been bossed around by the parent coordinator some more these past few weeks: He’s dictating my hours, telling me what projects to work on – most of them outside my job specifications – and because he knows jack shit about computers the stuff that actually needs being done is laying fallow and he, having volunteered the task of rearranging all the classrooms against the wishes of the teachers, is breaking most of what I did over the summer. He’s been designated by the principal to give me marching orders.

That my principal would have the power to designate a peer – one who has no experience or aptitude in managing people, and further has no technical knowledge – as my direct supervisor couldn’t possibly be kosher. There has to be a rule against this, and if there isn’t then it’s at least breaking any number of ethical guidelines.

So I called the union. DC37 local 2627, technology workers.

The union rep told me that there was absolutely nothing they could do because I was a provisional employee, which means I could be fired at will: I have no rights. I’ve been paying union dues since 2007, I said. Yes, they said, as a Computer Service Technician. And now I’m a Computer Service Technician Specialist, which has only been a position with any union representation – which is to say they had all of one meeting about it with the city – as of two and a half weeks ago, and protection doesn’t kick in until two years’ service under that title… provided, that is, DC37 gets a contract with the city.

So my two years’ work as a Computer Service Technician don’t qualify me for protection?

No, you’re working under a different title now, he said.

But I’m doing the same job.

Not on paper, you’re not.

The reason for this, he said, was because after a Long Island school realized it could fire all the provisional employees without trouble, Bloomberg realized he could do the same and laid off some 900 employees, including myself – as this was when I was laid off October before last. When I was rehired, it was into a new position the NYCDoE invented so as to avoid all the hassle of seniority or protection and, while it was automatically under DC37’s jurisdiction, there was no contract for it and there still isn’t. This is to say that the union was handily out-maneuvered, and it took them a full year to react. As such, this is why I’m being laid off again.

So I ask, how do I get to a permanent position? Take a civil service exam, he said, and be called to work somewhere. I already took one, I said. Not in our records, he replied, and besides, you won’t be permanent for a long while – next round is in 2014, and then you need to be appointed and work for a year past that to be protected. Not that it matters, because positions like yours were invented by the system to circumvent all that.

Why would anybody work in this stupid position?

For the benefits, said he. Health, dental, etc.

What do you suggest I do?

Keep your mouth shut.

I hung up. I thought I was paying for a union, not an HMO.

‘Sociological Experiment’


I’ve noticed quite an upturn in young white homeless people – of both genders – around and about lately. That in itself is weird enough, considering general socioeconomic circumstances, but certain things about the whole setup rub me the wrong way. I mean, I grew up in New York. I know homeless people. They’re industrious – you get creative when you’re desperate – and generally congenial people, but… they do look homeless. Kinda ragged. Greasy hair, etc.

Not this bunch. It doesn’t feel right. Washed hair. Clean clothes. Something of a bored affectation, though I admit that may just be me. But for instance, there’s a girl in her 20s on Broadway and 63rd who’s been there fairly regularly since March and had a sign lately saying she was collecting to “visit her family” outta the city. Visit. Not move back. Visit! Here I’m thinking, “y’know, it’s kinda unsafe to be young, female and homeless out in the streets of New York, and you want to come back?

And then I saw this article on The Local East Village. Homeless blonde dude keeps a website chronicling his panhandling by calling it a sociological experiment and keeping records on who gives him what. From the pic, other than being sunburnt I wouldn’t mark him for homeless. Reading the article and his website, he has family in DC but prefers to beg on New York streets, and talks about sending money to support his two daughters (and, of course, web hosting for the site), one of whom is 14 months old. This really does strike me as odd. For starters, did I mention he has family in DC?

I’d imagine homelessness is a state you fall into when you have no options. Family sounds like an option! It practically sounds more like hipster street performance than actual destitution. It makes it hard for me to feel sympathetic. What am I supposed to take from this? It sounds less like “getting back on one’s feet” and more “mooching.” Like homelessness is not a transient state but a lifestyle. This is seriously outta whack, and I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

Tea Party Holds Nation Hostage, Gets Concessions

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Apparently we do negotiate with terrorists.

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