July 17, 2005

WHERE WERE THESE JOBS IN THE FIRST HOOVER PRESIDENCY?:

The Line Starts Here (Libby Copeland, March 2, 2005, Washington Post)

The line-standers are out all night on Capitol Hill, looking homeless. "But we're not homeless," one of them says; just trying to keep warm in ski caps and puffy coats.

Waiting 10, 20, 30 hours outside the House or the Senate, holding a place in line so some well-pressed lobbyist can sit upfront at a congressional hearing and bat eyes at all the right people -- this is democracy, or something like it. More importantly, it's a job.

We're talking public hearings, but John Q. would have trouble getting into many of them if he ever showed up. He'd be too far back in line, assuming he didn't have $35 an hour to pay a line-standing company, or the gumption to play line-stander himself.

When the hearing rooms are small and the demand high, the line-stander comes in. He's a warm body, a hologram. He is a young fellow, with sleepy ambitions, or an older fellow, treading water, or some guy who talks obscenely and makes no sense at all. He waits on the sidewalk and when the congressional office buildings open in the morning, with staffers clickety-clacking past, he takes his place outside a hearing room and drops his puffy coat on those hallowed floors.

By late morning, when the hearing starts, he is gone. He is a spot-staker, a space broker, a paid idler. He is the pause button on Washington, keeping power in its proper place throughout the night.

"There's no expertise and there's no commodity," says Jay Moglia, a line-stander. He works dayside as a bike courier, as a lot of them do, and he takes pride in that work, which calls for strength, training, bravado.

Not line-standing. In this job, there's only the ability to stand up. [...]

Most of us know our time is worth less than someone else's, but line-standing brings that fact emphatically home. A line-standing company may pay a worker $10 an hour, $15 if he's a manager.


Getting paid that much gives them little understanding of their actual worth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 17, 2005 12:00 AM
Comments

$35/hr. Why go to law school?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 17, 2005 8:06 PM

Sounds like the perfect job.

$ 10/hr to stand around and read ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 17, 2005 8:28 PM

This translates into work for a kid with a driver's license to sit it a car in "loading zone", or even an airport screeing line.

This economy is seething with such "jobs", and if you are near a hotspot, you can even work a couple of other jobs while sitting around.

"There's no such thing as a crappy job." I know it sounds absurd, but it's an outlook we could use a little more of these days.

Posted by: BB at July 18, 2005 11:04 AM

I think that is how Ted Kennedy got his job. He was standing in line for the real candidate, but the guy never showed up.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at July 19, 2005 3:36 PM
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