There are more people than just ex-Borders employees who need a job.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of this all over Twitter: Got a job for an ex-Borders employee? Post it HERE!

And part of me thinks is so great to see people utilizing social media this way. Helping the thousands of workers who are losing their jobs since Borders announced they are closing their doors earlier this week.

But another part of me thinks it’s incredibly selfish.

What makes Borders employees more deserving of finding a job over the thousands of other unemployed people in the US?

Absolutely nothing. They are not more deserving of a job and they are not less deserving of a job.

First of all, let me say that I am in no way against people helping others find work. The economy is a bitch. It’s been that way for awhile. It’s fucking fantastic to see people using social media to potentially help people they’ve never met in a state they’ve never been to find work.

But why are we doing this just for ex-Borders employees? That seems a bit wrong to me. Borders employees are no more and no less deserving of a job over the thousands of other people in the US who have lost their job due to economy. Where are the offers to help those people?

I say this because when I see tweets like the one I mentioned earlier dominate my Twitter stream, I get a big angry and defensive. Why? Because of my mother.

She’s been unemployed going on two years now. She hasn’t been able to make a payment on her house for almost 18 months. And just the other day she was telling me over the phone how the 100+ degree weather dominating DFW right now is causing her electric bill to shoot up more than she was expecting to. She’s hanging on by a thread and has been for years now.

The money she gets from unemployment isn’t going to last forever. Frankly, it’s a bit of a miracle it’s lasted for two years. Any money she has goes directly to bills and food. She’s cut the “fun stuff” out of her life. No extra clothes, no manicures or pedicures, no trips to the salon, no going out to eat and no cable. The only “fun” thing she’s kept is the internet, and only because her primary use for it is to check her email and to look for jobs.

So why is it that when a bookstore goes out of business, people are crying out over how sad it is that the employees are losing their jobs? Why are the employees of Borders more deserving of a new job (and help to find it) than a middle-aged, single mother who has been unemployed for two years?

I’m not trying to say that the employees of Borders shouldn’t be helped. They should. It’s damn hard to find a job. What I am trying to say, however, is that there are more than just Borders employees looking for a job. When Borders closes their last door, their employees will probably be able to collect unemployment. That unemployment will hold them for awhile.

There are people who, like my mother, are running out of options. Unemployment won’t continue helping them for much longer.

Think of all the resources and connections you know. Think of all the resources and connections your connections probably know. While it’s wonderful to see writers and people in the publishing industry pulling together to help Borders employees, I’m positive that all those writers and people in the publishing industry know people outside their industries too.

If you’re going to help Borders employees find a job, why not help non-Borders employees?

So while I think it’s wonderful to see the influx of support Borders employees are receiving, I also think it’s selfish too. There are all kinds of people in the US looking for a job. Why not reach out and help them?

Still, if the only desire to help is the desire to help Borders employees, well, that’s better than not helping anyone at all.

4 responses

  1. Criss

    It's easier to help the small(ish) population of newly-laid-off ex-Borders employees than to look at the bigger, much-harder-to-solve problem of all the people who have lost their jobs and have been looking for years. Also, the Borders thing is new, it's in the news (for the next 12-24 hours, until something else can be exploited for ratings).

    We can also stay on our high horse when talking to the ex-Borders employees, because they have not yet gone on unemployment — all those other people, who have been unemployed and have been looking for a job and unable to find one, well, those are just… lazy people, aren't they? They're those lazy people on welfare! Because if they were GOOD people, LIKE ME, then they'd have a job already! Because that's how it works, you ask for a job and POOF! it appears.

    We like to live in our little bubble, where if I have a job, it must mean I have done something to deserve it –which means people who don't have a job must have done something to "deserve" that fate. That way we don't have to feel guilty about being damn lucky we're in the situation we're in; as long as we ignore that there is really no difference between us and the person who's been unemployed for two years and in danger of losing her house, we can ignore how vulnerable our own situation is.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    • This is so true, Criss. Everyday I'm so thankful for what I have. My husband reenlisted into the Marines in large part because of the benefits. We want to start a family, and we knew that based on what we were making/how we were living back home, it wasn't feasible. Neither of us had medical insurance and we were just barely scraping buy. So he reenlisted (for several reasons, but benefits being a big one), and it was a year-long process just for him to get back in. He was in good shape and everything checked out, but it was a year wait just because there were no positions available to him (he's in the Marine band). But now he's in and we're in Japan expecting our first and I am so thankful that we have what we have, because I've seen the other side of it through my mother's eyes.

      I keep telling my mom that worst comes to worst, she can just lose the house and put all her stuff in storage and come to Japan and stay with me, take some online classes and go back to the US when things are better.

      July 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm

  2. Raelyn Barclay

    Very thought provoking Alice.

    I don't feel that people are putting Borders employees above others out of work. At least not individually. I think what has struck people is this huge group of people are being let go all at once. For most people out of work, it was a gradual process…a round of layoffs, then another, etc. until finally that pink slip arrived in their inbox.

    That's what happened with My Guy. We were on pins and needles for over a year. Our greeting became his saying, "still have a job" and my, "thank God." Then came the day he walked in the door, silent, handing me his severance check. He did get another job fairly quickly but took a huge pay cut.

    I'm surprised more people haven't used social media more to help others find jobs. Hopefully this outreach will trigger others!

    I wish your mom luck in finding work and will keep her in my thoughts.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

  3. Hey, I'm one of the founders of the Help Ex-Borders Employees site. Mostly, both of us founders simply have a lot of skin in the book publishing game and so the issue is close to our hearts. It is like raising money for a specific cause that is important to you. Also, the blog is public so anyone looking for a job is welcome to use the resources. Good luck to everyone. Chris Kubica

    July 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm

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