[Random Scribbles are my occasional posts of half-formed thoughts, half-baked ideas, and off-the-cuff observations.]
In the 1987 movie Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend’s character goes through many struggles to try to make it in show business. Throughout the movie, one of his relatives—his mom, an aunt, I don’t remember exactly—keeps telling him, “There’s always a job at the Post Office.” The gag at the end of the film is that the character ends up making promotional videos for the Post Office.
The point though is that once, there were jobs in this country that felt as if they would always be there. They were not glamorous, but they were solid and steady. Being a postal employee was one of them. Working for a newspaper was another, whether as a “copy boy,” a reporter, or an editor. And there was always the local factory.
Today, even these jobs are vanishing. The journalism business is in a state of disrepair, as I have discussed before. And the Post Office is shedding employees, closing locations, and ripping blue mail boxes out of the ground. A neighbor of mine has worked as a postman for decades, and his brother recently retired from the Postal Service. In a recent conversation, neither seemed optimistic about the future of the organization.
As I look ahead, and try to see what my children will do for a living, I worry. I just have no clear idea of what the future might bring. The solid, steady jobs are disappearing. New jobs are risky and untested. The so-called service industry—McDonalds, Walmart—is a joke. Personal assets that once were valued—loyalty, integrity, the ability to write and think critically—are now nearly worthless.
I’m sure we as a society have been here before—the Industrial Revolution, for example—and will be here again. I just don’t like being here now.