Yesterday afternoon at Subway, while I was answering questions about my preferred ingredients to the lady behind the counter, a young guy walked in and asked if they had any job applications. To me this seemed like an innocent enough question.
Well, maybe it was the way he was dressed… maybe it was the color of his skin… maybe it was the way he asked the question… whatever the reason, the three folks behind the counter seemed very reluctant to either give him an application or offer any advice on where he might find work at any of the other Subway locations in town. The guy preparing the cold cuts finally let his suspicions be known and asked the fellow why he wanted an application. “I need it for welfare,” said the young man. “Sorry, we don’t have any,” was the cold reply. After the young application-seeker left empty-handed, the guy in the back let his frustration be known. “Welfare application… gimme a break!”, he said a couple times – making sure it was loud enough for me to hear.
I walked away from the counter angry at people I’d never met. Why was this young applicant so unmotivated and clueless about beginning a career? Had anyone ever taught him about taking responsibility for himself? Why did he seem so willing to settle with governmental assistance? On the other hand, why did the guy behind the counter immediately write off the young man as a lazy, good-for-nothing, taker? Why did the store manager seem so unwilling to offer an ounce of effort toward the redirection and/or motivation of a floundering young man in need? Oh yeah… and what should I do once my little reflection has been documented?
One response to “Job Application”
Thanks for raising the question anew: what is social justice? Is the art of living in “word and deed” as followers of the ultimate Word and Deed, Jesus Christ, limited only to the downcast? The man on welfare is caught. Perhaps the question is not limited to how to best help the man caught on welfare. Maybe it is just as much a question of how to help the employees behind the counter. If we are to continue the work of Christ, we must not overlook the “oppressor” in our design to free the oppressed. For, ultimately, we are all caught and in desperate need of saving.