Got A Bad Reading About This

, , , , | Working | March 14, 2018

(I am a recently-hired grocery store assistant manager. An elderly relative of mine comes into the store shortly before the start of the holiday season with her neighbor’s son. Apparently, this young man got his girlfriend pregnant and is in desperate need of a job. She is asking me to use my “connections” to get him a job.)

Elderly Relative: “This is [Job Seeker]. He needs a job because his girlfriend is pregnant and he needs money to support the baby. He would preferably like a management position.

(I am a little taken aback by this, as I am the latest management trainee to graduate from the corporate program. The corporate training program requires at least FIVE years of management experience or a bachelor’s degree. This kid doesn’t look old enough for either.)

Me: “Well, [Job Seeker], let’s go over to the application kiosk so you can fill out an application. I can’t guarantee a management position, but we are hiring for a bunch of other positions in the store.”

(The job seeker goes over to the computer terminal that we use for job applications and I tell him to sit down and click the start button.)

Job Seeker: “What is the start button?”

Me: “The button that says, ‘Start.’ Use the mouse and click on it.”

Job Seeker: “I can’t read!”

Me: “What do you mean, you can’t read?”

Job Seeker: “I was homeschooled, and my mama never taught me how to read!”

(Thinking this is some kind of a joke, I ask my relative if this is true. She says that it is indeed true, and that he was homeschooled by barely-literate parents who just taught their children oral Bible stories as their entire homeschool “education.” The state standards on homeschooling allowed his mother to fudge his grades and grant him a high school diploma.)

Me: “[Elderly Relative], what did you think you were doing, bringing him down here? I can’t hire someone who doesn’t even know how to read well enough to fill out a job application!”

Elderly Relative: “But you can teach him how to read! Isn’t that your job as the assistant store manager?”

Me: “It’s not my job to teach this kid how to perform basic life functions. I’m busy enough trying to manage the store. My manager would fire me on the spot if I hired him!”

Elderly Relative: “I can’t believe that you are going to let this kid go without a job! He is going to be a father, you know! He failed out of Job Corps because he couldn’t read!”

(I then ask if someone tried to teach him how to read while he was in Job Corps. Someone indeed did, but he didn’t think he “needed to know how to read” to function in society! The job seeker then goes into a rant about how his daddy says that reading is “stupid.” He tells me that his daddy makes $11 an hour loading trucks and can’t read, so he doesn’t understand why he can’t get a job at the store. I then take the job seeker to a section of the store that needs restocking and show him a very basic plan-o-gram. Most of the positions that we have are for replenishment associates. I ask him to tell me where a specific product should go on the store shelf based upon the plan-o-gram. Not surprisingly, he can’t.)

Me: “[Job Seeker], I can’t hire you because you can’t perform the basic functions of the job. Have you tried Vocational Rehabilitation? Maybe they can put you in classes to teach you how to read.”

Elderly Relative: “I don’t understand why you can’t get him a job here! You were homeschooled, so you should know how hard it is for homeschooled kids! You didn’t graduate from college until you were 30!”

Me: “If you can’t recall, I could read when I was four! I also went to college and earned my degree eventually. I dropped out of a program that I didn’t like and did a stint as a truck driver to see the country. I received a quality education that prepared me for basic life skills and even prepared me for college.”

Elderly Relative: “What about the trucking company that you worked for? Could they hire [Job Seeker] as a driver? He doesn’t have a driver’s license, but he could get one.”

Me: “I don’t think you understand. The testing for commercial drivers is much harder than a simple job application. If he can’t read enough to fill out a job application, there is no way that he is going to be able to study the driver training manual and take the test. I’m not even going to bother embarrassing myself by talking to my old boss about hiring [Job Seeker].”

Elderly Relative: “But it is your fault that he can’t get a job! You won’t hire him!”

Me: “I’m not going to hire someone who can’t perform the basic functions of the job and who would be a hindrance to my other employees. If he couldn’t hack Job Corps, he isn’t going to hack it working here.”

Elderly Relative: “Well, you’re just being unChristian! Come on, [Job Seeker]. Maybe the Army will take you!”

(I later heard from a friend at the recruiting office that [Job Seeker] was rejected because he could barely write his own name, let alone fill out the paperwork to take the ASVAB. He also had a criminal record that my relative had not disclosed to me. The last I heard, he was doing time in the county lockup for burglary. If I had known the names of the parents, I would have reported them to social services for failing to educate their children!)

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