I sleep with Puter and Lator every night. Neither one of them initiate contact, I always do–but as a heterosexual male, that is a familiar role for me. It’s not that Puter is cold, she really runs hot, but she is not in the habit of reaching out. I am always touching her, in repetitive ways, I might add. I really don’t consider myself a bigamist and Puter and Lator get along quite well–they have what you might call a symbiotic relationship.
No, they are not cats. No, they are not turtles. Care to guess again? You are correct if you surmise they are not human. There is not enough room in my bed for a human, and she (I do have a preference for women in my bed, I admit) couldn’t provide a job for me, so she’d have to sleep elsewhere. Sad commentary about relationship, downward mobility and economic downturns but not surprising. Hard to predict and harder to believe that I sleep with a computer in my bed — with 21st century technological queuing- there is little time for much else!
Let me explain. I am a cog in the vast underworld and undifferentiated mass of substitute teachers. We work to live…not live to work. Each time we take attendance we get to pay another bill, or stay warm or keep a roof over our heads. Get it?
Get in those classrooms, pass out those assignments and most importantly take attendance. I can’t pronounce a quarter of the names correctly so it usually takes half the period before everyone confirms or denies their presence. And their constant banter doesn’t help, but hey- school wouldn’t be school without a vigorous vocal chord workout!
But wait, I am getting ahead of myself. Back to Puter and Lator. Enter stage right Frontline Placement Technologies, Inc. – a privately-held Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider – and in their own words the largest and fastest growing automated scheduling and shift fulfillment system in the world? The universe? They don’t tell us. Suffice it to say, the school districts around here genuflect to them and they run things. If you want to WORK, you had better make amends with Frontline Placement Technologies and do as they say. Minnesotans of course have no problem meticulously following rules and therein lies a gargantuan conundrum. Everyone wants a job- everyone wants to work, and everyone follows the rules. And school districts are renown for laying off teachers particularly in difficult economic climates. And those willing to suffer the indignities of bureaucratic multi-step foxtrots (read all the people laid off in other fields) can also teach-without a teaching license. So what is the likely outcome?
Puter and Lator have become my constant companions and we are inseparable. That’s right- no more free time – Puter and Lator occupy me constantly- as I look, search and relentless GRAB any cyberspace opportunity that comes my way.
Frontline Placement brags..We place a sub every 5 seconds. How long has it taken you to read this? How many subs has Frontline Placed by now? The world speeds up and we speed up with it. By now you have probably surmised that ‘Puter’ is my notebook computer, but now I must introduce ‘Lator’ . Who is Lator? Not later, Lator! Lator is actually none other than JOBULATOR, a yahoo widget which sits on my desktop starting at me. You know widgets, those little things- referred to as desktop icons that provide timely information, weather, time….usually innocuous things. But this widget is different. It is a torturous widget. It constantly seduces me with the promise of a job and then mercilessly teases and humiliates me by allowing someone to grab it out of my hands.
Lator makes alien garbage pail slamming noises and bleeps whenever their is a job available-but then the real fun begins.
If Lator doesn’t receive my 4 digit pin # (which I cannot reveal here for security reasons!!) Lator will give the job to one of the other desperados who are probably also sleeping with their computer. Oops…not fast enough. Lator says the job is no longer available. Less than 5 seconds have elapsed since I first laid eyes upon the coveted job. Now it is gone. Poof. Out of reach. Never to return. But wait. Here comes another one. Lator is chirping its familiar garbage pail lid tune. Quick the PIN…enter the pin. I type my pin. But there are faster pin typists in the Twin Cities. They, must, like my journalist friend, type 6000 words per minute. Too late. The job is gone in a record three seconds. Mind you, it is 4:45 in the morning and i have woken to Lator’s sweet siren garbage pail theme. How many people all over the sleeping subzero city lie awake under their blankets and comforters like me clutching their laptops…ready to pounce on Lator’s news. Many. Hundreds. Maybe even thousands. And with each layoff, with each job cut announcement….more people attach themselves to Lator…and reduce me to a sniffling, half sane, mumbling, zombie. Some widget! I regret the day I ever met Jobulator and yet I scheme, and think up ways to teach my ‘Lator’ a lesson and condemn it to eternal damnation.
But without Jobulator, could Frontline still fufill its stated mission? Five seconds have passed…another sub and another and another…..The world is drowning in subs…still Frontline never ceases to outsource them.
Now I lose the next two jobs in quick succession. I write to Jobulator Central and beseech them to tell me a way to get around entering my PIN- because I can’t fairly compete with PIN typists in my area. Their hands fly- their hands are never more than 1″ from the keyboard. They don’t wear glasses that they have to find before they can even see the keyboard, like I do. They are young, brilliant and agile.
A ‘Lator’ support representative contacts me the next day, NO, No, and No. His short message reads: We am sorry to say that there is no pre-programming for your pin. It must be entered manually in order to accept a job. That’s right WE AM sorry. Their wording.
Frontline Placement Technologies
Regards to you to Frontline.
harry greenberg wrote this unapologetically staring with a blank look at his Jobulator Widget.