Employers seem to treat their employees so badly nowadays. What is the deal? Just read Muon’s story above. I’ve written briefly about my employment troubles elsewhere. But the employer-employee funfest that’s been on my mind most the last week or so is my daughter’s.

She’s a licensed massage therapist. I was uneasy when she said she was going to massage therapy school. There are two schools of massage in our state and they churn out a new set of graduates every six months - that’s a lot of massage therapists for a low-population state. I’ve known any number of people who got the training and then couldn’t find enough work to support themselves and are now doing something else.

On the other hand, I thought she might be good at it. Part of being successful as a hair dresser or other service oriented jobs is personality--making the customers want to come back to YOU. And my daughter has always been very social, friendly, etc. No way to know in advance whether she could actually give a good massage.

So anyway, I and others warned her about job prospects, but she forged onwards and got the (very expensive) training. And it turns out she gives a very good massage. Then the job hunt began.

After two years and innumerable resumes, interviews, part-time/on-call jobs, she was working at the best job she had found so far. She worked three-and-a-half days a week in a chiropractor’s office. The going rate for massages in this area is $40 for an hour-long massage. She got half of this. This seemed reasonable to me, since the chiropractor was providing the clients and the premises. HOWEVER, though she was expected the be there from 8 to 5, she was only paid for the actual massages she gave, so on slow days she spent a lot of time reading and crocheting and got paid nothing. And I’m sure I need not mention that she got no insurance, no paid holidays or sick days and she had to buy her own K-Y for the screwing she was getting.

Since the chiropractor wasn’t paying the massage therapists when they weren’t working, and because he had an extra room, he kept more than one massage therapist on duty at a time. This way, he could get maximum returns during busy times, and (apparently) he didn’t care that during slow times the two therapists had to share little or no work, and thus made little or no money. Because there is such a glut of massage therapists out there, he could always find somebody willing to work under these circumstances.

My daughter kept on sending out resumes and going to interviews. Then about two months ago she called me all excited. She had gotten a new job. The company which owned the massage school she graduated from was setting up a day spa right downtown in the biggest city in the state. It was to be super elegant, upscale, tra-la-la. She would be full-time and would be getting BENEFITS!!!

How wonderful, I said. How great. I’m so glad for you. What will they be paying you? She had been too shy to ask and they hadn’t told her. Oh-oh, I thought, but I kept my mouth shut. (It turned out to be $9 per hour. Sigh. They charge the customer $40, and pass on less than a quarter to the person who does the work. Typical, I thought.)

So she gave her two-weeks notice to the chiropractor, and started commuting to the new job. There were a couple of weeks of training and set-up before the spa actually opened, and they paid the staff minimum wage during this time. Then they had what they called the soft opening. The doors were open for business, the staff was working the kinks out of the new system on real, paying customers. The date of the grand opening was approaching fast, advertising was appearing here and there, the staff was getting excited for the big day...

Three days before the grand opening, they “down-sized”. They laid off half the employees. Including (I know I need not tell you) my daughter.

My daughter isn’t certain, but she thinks they laid off everybody who was hired as full time and thus entitled to benefits. So here we sit, dazed and confused, asking ourselves, what the hell happened? Was this whole plan set in motion by some totally incompetent jerk with overly grandiose ideas and it went this far before someone higher up the food chain caught on and pared things down? Or (a dark thought, this) did they cynically hire all these young people, taking them away from the jobs they already held, as cheap labor to help them get the spa set up, planning in advance to dump them when the place was up and running?

So now my daughter is working part-time as a janitor. It breaks my heart.