Volume XVII, Issue 36 # September 3 - September 9, 2009

from the Editor

Labor Day, 2009

Working’s not so bad — especially when you consider the alternative

I’d already heard the story before the young friend told it on himself. Out of the army and on his second or third week on the job, he asked his boss if he couldn’t please have Friday off. He and his buddies had plans to drive a distance to a concert that night.

“If you take Friday off, you might as well take Monday, too,” his boss replied.

“Gee, thanks!” said the delighted young man.

It wasn’t until the following Tuesday he realized he’d been fired.

By the time I heard his diffident recollection, he was a working man, following in the footsteps of his father, uncle and grandfather, laborers and union men, who laughed not only at their scion but also at their own recollections of themselves.

It’s tough all over again for each generation to get a job, but eventually most of us do. The big surprise is not that we get jobs but that so many of us discover such inner drive — and sometimes rewards — that the American work ethic continues to amaze the world.

This Labor Day — when American jobs are scarcer than they’ve been for a quarter of a century — we bring you stories about people on both halves of the divide.

On one side is Jeff Franklin, formerly of Be Beep: A Toy Store, one of the lucky ones. Out of the business by choice, he couldn’t get it out of his heart and jumped at the chance to create a new toy store in the footprint of his old one. Probably not coincidentally, Franklin Toys opens Labor Day weekend.

On the other side, intern Ashley Goodman, who’s Job Diary you’ll read, wonders if she’ll ever get the kind of career she went to college for, ever move out of the family home, ever join the self-supporting, job-defined middle class of her parents and aunts. Truth be told, she’s worried not only about the job market but also about herself, because she still can’t imagine wearing the harness of work for 30 or 40 years.

Long-term unemployment statistics put some buoyancy in Ashley’s prospects. Since 1942, periods of high joblessness like our own — last month’s unemployment rate was 9.4 percent — have always eased into better times. 1982’s high of 9.7 fell to 5.3 percent by 1989. 2000 saw our decade’s lowest, 4.0 percent.

I’d say more about my hope for better times and good jobs for everybody, but here at Bay Weekly, we’ve got work to do. It’s Tuesday, and that’s our weekly labor day.

Writers are finishing up the last stories for the paper of September 3, 2009. Working with me, Ashley finished hers weeks ago. Margaret Tearman did her interview and story about Jeff Franklin in a day, yesterday. Diana Beechener, who came to Bay Weekly over two years ago after one other full-time job following college, is now a master of fluency: Calendar and stories roll off her fingers and into each week’s paper.

From me, the edited stories go to J. Alex Knoll, Bay Weekly’s co-founder, who prays they’ll come with good photos to inspire his layout. Betsy Kehne — who’s labored here for 15 years — has already laid out calendar and is back at work designing ads.

From that pair, the pages float out of the printer to proofreaders Dick Wilson and Martha Lee Benz. Dick, a retired air traffic controller, likes his Bay Weekly job so well that he’s kept it for almost nine years — despite the fact that cookies are his pay. Martha Lee is a professional editor and proofreader. Downsized, she came to us as a volunteer this year because she couldn’t bear leaving the work she loves. (So if you need a grade-A editor or proofreader, part- or full-time, you know where to look.)

Tuesday isn’t much different from any other day of the week for Lisa Edler Knoll’s sales team. Unless Lisa, Amy Kliegman and Karis King are selling, all of us would be out of work.

       Sandra Olivetti Martin

     editor and publisher