Posted by: johnhourihan | July 29, 2013

The Unemployment Office

Scrapper Jack came home from work at the shoe shop early, and I saw the concerned look on my mother’s face.
He stepped out of the big black sedan and waved to the guy who had brought him home. He walked to the door and stopped as my mother met him there.  They spoke in hushed tones at the front door. I heard the words “layoff,” and “as soon as they get more orders.”
Arm in arm they walked into the kitchen.
What’s “layoff?” I asked. I was an inquisitive 7-year-old.
My father sat me down and explained that the shoe shop didn’t have enough orders to keep everyone working, so they told some people to go home and that the boss would call them as soon as there was more work.
“Don’t worry, Jocko,” he said. “Tomorrow I’ll go down to the Unemployment Office and sign up. They’ll give us some money until the work comes in.”
I was still worried about how seven of us children would eat, but pretty soon I was playing caught-caught – free, free with my brothers, sisters and some neighborhood kids. Apparently I was satisfied with the explanation about the Unemployment Office.
Today, over another retirement breakfast on the porch, something occurred to me.
Most of us, from that point until now, refer to that place we got money when we were out of work through no fault of our own as the Unemployment Office. It is only those who worked in all the governments since my father was laid off who called it the Employment Office, most of the rest of us call it the Unemployment Office and have since at least the 50’s.
If there had been full employment until now we would call it by the appropriate name, “The Employment Office,” but that, of course, is not the case, is it?
So why, again, are we blaming unemployment on the current president as if this has never happened before, and as if some other political party will make it go away?


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