Month: March 2018

The Sympathy Vote

Can a past misfortune be used as currency to land a job? Source CNN



I’ll probably catch a lot of heck for writing this, but it’s been said if you want the right to freedom of expression, this includes the right to offend someone.

I’ve been looking for full-time work for a long time now and it’s been one hell of an uphill battle. I’ve faced ageism and an ever changing employment market. I’ve been forced to consider options that were outside my career path in the information technology field. I’ve changed my mindset on numerous occasions to adapt to new challenges in my job search. I’ve lost friends and stressed out my family members. I’ve even begged publically — even to total strangers — for help in finding work.

Having said this, I never felt I should be given a job out of kindness or sympathy. A job is earned. You should have the right qualifications to hold down a job.

To explain my position better, I once was offered a job at a friend’s cousin’s bakery in Cambridge, Ontario, but a driver’s license was required. It was necessary to know how to drive since a part of the job description delivering baked goods to various stores and a few Sikh temples.

There were two options open to me when considering the position:

  • The first was to learn how to drive.
  • The second was deciding not to learn how to drive and move on with my job search.

I didn’t have the money to take a driver’s ed course, I was deathly afraid of being on the road with other drivers (I’ve seen how some of you buggers drive and have good reason to be scared). I’m hitting 54 in a few months and am aware my vision will not be what it is now — pretty good but god-damn it, what year did aspirin bottle print get so small? — by the time I hit 64.

After taking these considerations into mind, I’ve made the choice to not learn to drive and declined the job offer. It sucked mightily to make that decision but that’s life.

I didn’t feel the employer should pay for my driver’s ed. I didn’t feel other drivers should make me feel more comfortable driving. I certainly don’t expect Father Time to cut me some slack on the aging process. These factors were all on me and those are my issues to grapple with.

In fact, it shouldn’t matter in your job search if you were once homeless, a cancer survivor, a single parent with kids, or someone struggling with a physical or mental disability, or being a victim of sexual abuse.

According to an article on CNN, however, we have examples of some women who are, as openly stated in the article, seizing “on their past abuse to fuel political ambition”.

This approach to realize such aspirations is deeply worrisome to me, and not just because these women might get into office not because they’re qualified to run for public life but because voters felt sorry for them after hearing a sad story.

What concerns me is that those who have had a rough few rounds in life might see this as a way of getting their due. They were victims, so they should get jobs as compensation for past life tragedies. Earning employment should not be even remotely considered.

That’s called entitlement and even I would consider that a form of cheating. The hard crash going from being a “have” to a “have-not” and the struggles I’ve faced deserves compassion and understanding, but should never be a form of pity-parity in hiring.

To those who are using the #MeToo and #TimesUp banner to land a position under the guise of fighting the so-called patriarchy or as one of the women put it, “who can you trust most not to show you their penis in a professional setting? Is it the candidate who doesn’t have a penis? I’d say so.”, I call that duplicitous. Are any of them vying for the position because they’re an employment fit, or is it an attempt to use a past misfortune as currency to buy the job?

Do not misinterpret my stance as callousness. I feel very sorry for anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault or any past injustice. Those accused of committing such acts, once found guilty in a fair trial, deserve nothing less than the full maximum in their sentence.

Having said this, misfortune is not selective. Each of us have experienced a tragedy somewhere in our past. At the risk of invoking a religious image so close to Easter, that’s our personal cross to bear alone. Don’t expect anyone to care enough to simply hand you something of opportunity. In fact, expect people not to care at all.

Instead, earn opportunity through effort and experience. Meritocracy is the best cure for moving past horrific events. As Joan Rivers once put it, “the best form of revenge is success”.

Thanks for reading.