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Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

Cartoon of the Word vol. 1

Northside Madison
Ambrosavage's Cartoon of the Word (of the Day)

The Graying of America 

Should grays date whites? What do you think? I mean, if a white dates a gray, is the white slumming? Is the gray a "climber"?

See, at work there is this white dating a gray. Okay, the white is a systems analyst who used to be gray, and the gray is an attorney who used to be white. So maybe, in the topsy-turvy new world work-place order it is okay. But still, I feel uneasy about the whole thing. These days there is so much fear and hostility amongst whites towards grays.

Here is the deal. At my work place a photo ID with a gray border signifies a temporary employee. A photo ID with a white border signifies a permanent employee. Without the different colored borders it would be hard to tell the "perms" or "whites" from the "temps" or "grays", as many "grays" have been working there for years. One might assume that employees who work 40 hours a week, week after week, for years, are permanent employees. But they're not. They are temps.

I won't say what company I work for, but it is a really big one that makes airplanes. I won't say what kind of airplanes they make, but most feature the number "7". I won't say what kind of employee they prefer, but the whites seem to be going the way of the white river salmon. And so there is hostility towards me and my kind. Yes, my ID badge is - gray.

Management warned me of this hostility during my indoctrination, an arduous process during which time I was kept in a sterile environment (the Kent valley) and fed nothing but high-fat, starchy food with absolutely no nutritional value. (The only kind available in their cafeteria.) "The permanent employees don't understand why, during massive layoffs, we are still hiring temps," said management. "They don't understand that as a trained legal professional you have certain abilities we need that they don't have." "Like the ability to work without benefits?" I asked. Okay, I didn't actually ask that question out loud, but as Kato Kaelin said under direct questioning a couple of weeks ago : "I didn't say it, but I thought it. I thought it - in my head."

And so, It is pretty awful where I work. The perms hate the temps, and the temps hate life. The perms feel threatened, and the temps feel like chumps. That is why it was such an astonishing sight to see a perm and a temp walking hand in hand amongst the warehouses and missile factories, the strip malls and parking lots of the Kent valley. And, after feeling troubled and uneasy by this sight, I realized that I was feeling something I had not felt in some time - hope.

People, people! Temps and perms! Grays and whites! We should and must come together! Do not be deceived by clever corporate strategy designed to divide and weaken us! We must not direct our anger at each other! We must direct our anger where it belongs: up! In corporate jets flying high above us, big-whigs and bosses, policy wonks and wankers drink the blood of small children while plotting to further cheapen not only labor, but life. Remember, whether temporary or permanent employees we are all human. We are all the same.

And we're all getting screwed.

- Cartoonist John Ambrosavage no longer builds airplanes. He now just draws them.

Contents on this page were published in the April/May, 1995 edition of the Washington Free Press.
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