Website owner:  James Miller

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The facts of life --- a job is like a place at a table


   It was a huge room containing many, many tables.  Tables 
   extended as far as the eye could see.  Around each table people 
   were eating.  The tables were long and rectangular --- each 
   accommodating about sixteen or eighteen people.  Many of the 
   tables were just rough plank tables containing the most meager 
   of fare.  Other tables were of fine construction and had 
   tablecloths.  Those with tablecloths had more food and more 
   appetizing looking food on them.  The tablecloths were of three 
   colors: yellow, blue and red.  The tables with the yellow 
   tablecloths were by far the most numerous.  The vast majority 
   of the tables, in fact, had yellow tablecloths. These tables 
   were quite plain in appearance but the food on them looked 
   hearty and good.  There were far fewer tables with blue 
   tablecloths.  These tables were much more nicely decorated than 
   those with the yellow tablecloths.  They were adorned with 
   lovely silver tableware and ladened with very sumptuous looking 
   food.  The tables with the red tablecloths were very few and 
   rarely seen but they were the most sumptuous looking.  These 
   tables were adorned with golden candles and golden tableware 
   and were laden with the most sumptuous looking feasts 
   imaginable  --- foods of every description.

   Amongst the tables many people were wandering about.  These 
   were people looking for vacant places at tables.  There weren't 
   many vacancies.  A vacancy only occurred at a table if someone 
   at the table died or if a table's tablemaster expelled someone 
   from the table.  Vacancies at tables were very difficult to 
   find.  Only with great luck did one locate one.  And then you 
   were only eligible to sit at certain tables.  For example, to 
   be able to sit at a table with a red tablecloth you had to have 
   a red chip.  This was your ticket to a red table.  Only people 
   who had graduated from one of the five most prestigious 
   colleges in the land had red chips.  Graduates of lesser 
   colleges had blue chips.  And people with high school diplomas 
   only had yellow chips.  People with blue chips were eligible 
   for positions at the blue tables.  People with yellow chips 
   were eligible for the positions at the yellow tables.  Anyone 
   could eat at the tables that had no tablecloth.

   People with no position at a table lived by begging food from 
   those sitting at the tables --- or by stealing food by some 
   trick or other.  To be without a table was a hard life.  Many 
   people holding yellow, blue and even red chips were wandering 
   about tableless.  In hunger many gratefully accepted positions 
   at tables below those for which they were eligible.  Many 
   people with blue chips and even some with red chips were eating 
   at yellow tables.  Some were even eating at tables without 

   So what we have described above was the scene.  No sane person 
   voluntarily gave up his position at a table.  No matter what 
   happened one clung to his position at a table.

   The tablemasters had great power for they had the power to 
   expel people from their table and they also had the say as to 
   who would be allowed to fill vacant positions at their table.  
   Some tablemasters were very fair and nice.  Others were not.  
   Some were very capricious, arbitrary and demanding.  To stay at 
   a table it was necessary to stay in the good graces of the 
   tablemaster.  Some tablemasters took advantage of their power 
   to ask for various kinds of favors.  Favors ranged from lying 
   and stealing to those of a sexual nature.  Their requests could 
   be very demeaning.  But rather than lose their place at a table 
   most people would give in to the demands of the tablemaster.  
   To be without a place at a table was just too frightening. 

   The above scene is life.  The positions around the tables are 
   jobs.  The people wandering about looking for a position at a 
   table are the unemployed. 

   Mar 1993

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