Thursday, July 2, 2015

Yet another indignity

Rashidah Johnson didn't mean to cry at Monday's vigil for the unemployed held at the Arch Street Methodist Church, but as she spoke, her voice was thick with tears. Here she was, 39 years old, and back in her old bedroom in her parents' home because she lost her job and could no longer pay her rent. When I spoke with her later for my story in Tuesday' Philadelphia Inquirer, I was struck again by all the indignities that people experience when they lose their work.

Yet another indignity

0 comments

Rashidah Johnson didn't mean to cry at Monday's vigil for the unemployed held at the Arch Street Methodist Church, but as she spoke, her voice was thick with tears. Here she was, 39 years old, and back in her old bedroom in her parents' home because she lost her job and could no longer pay her rent. When I spoke with her later for my story in Tuesday' Philadelphia Inquirer, I was struck again by all the indignities that people experience when they lose their work.

Johnson is luckier than most. She has a room in her parents' home and she's not sharing it with other family members who may be similarly displaced. And what I'm about to say is really a small thing, in the big picture. It's small, but it matters because it is just one more crappy element of being unemployed, of losing the dignity and stature that comes with work and a pay check.

Here's the scenario she outlined, and it made me very sad: No one would describe Johnson as a big drinker, but like a lot of us, she often enjoyed a glass of wine when she finished work. Even assuming she could afford the occasional modest bottle on unemployment, there's another reason why even that simple pleasure is now a thing of the past. Johnson's parents don't really drink, except on social occasions. In theory, she thinks, they wouldn't mind if she had a glass of wine. In practice, it would make her feel uncomfortable -- now that she is a guest in their home. This is the kind of daily negotiation that happens in this scenario. No big deal, really, yet emblematic of a life no longer ones own.

Inquirer Staff Writer
0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter
Topics: