Random Scribbles: Have I been here before?

[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.



  1. geralynwichers

    Agreed. I’m sure times like this have happened before, but that doesn’t make them comfortable.
    Yet, for a writer at the very beginning of her career, this is a prime time to be alive–what with the rise of social media and all. A bit of a double edged sword.
    Must make the best of it, I suppose.

  2. Jann @ Austin Details Art + Photo

    Agree, there are no guarantees anymore–for our gen, certainly–and for our kids. I think they’ll end up with careers of short-term jobs and contract work, probably without bennies, and hopefully they’ll adjust. After all, they are the first of the video-gaming, tech-savvy, multi-tasking, speeded-up gens to come.

  3. helpfairy

    Hi Matthew, I just stumbled into your blog! Great post, I agree (and worry) with you. I live in “Good Old Germany” and it is no different here. That’s why I have been looking for a job for many months now. Even with very good education, experience and all, I finally found a part-time job which keeps me “almost-safe” until November this year. Great!! But exactly as Jann said before: we’ll have to adjust ;-)

    • Matthew Taylor

      Hi, and welcome!
      Sorry to hear about your situation in Germany. Hopefully you are finding some support out here in blog-land (as I have). Good luck with the part-time. I’d love to hear how it goes for you.

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