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Saturday: September 15, 2007

Overqualified To Deliver Pepsis

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:12 PM GMT-0500

Joanne Jacobs links to a sad story about five South Korean autoworkers who were fired by Hyundai for not being high-school graduates: they were actually college graduates. My comment there seems worth posting here as well, with a bit of editing:

I’ve been fired from a job for having a college degree, and I hadn’t even applied for it. I was actually just a thesis away from my M.A. at the time. I was between regular jobs in a recession — the Carter administration was one long recession, as far as I could see –, and working intermittently for Manpower. Some of their temp jobs were quite pleasant: working as a flagman for the phone company out in the country when it’s 68 degrees and breezy is very nice, except for the lack of bathrooms.

One week they sent me to Pepsi to help deliver sodas all around the county — including to two prisons (men’s and women’s) and a home for the criminally insane, which was interesting.* On Wednesday of that week, I was told I was fired (by Pepsi, not Manpower). Apparently they were using Manpower to try out possible permanent employees and just assumed I would be interested in signing on full-time. (I’m a Coke drinker myself, and wouldn’t have felt comfortable in a career delivering a product I dislike. Then again, I had the impression the pay was pretty good, so I might have considered it.) They apparently had an unwritten no-college-graduates rule. I certainly didn’t go around telling blue-collar workers I’d been to college and even grad school, and was annoyed that the Pepsi driver wormed the information out of me and then blabbed about it to his boss. He had begged me not to tell his boss about his back troubles so he wouldn’t be fired, and I kept that promise, even after being fired myself, though I was sorely tempted to get a little payback.

*The driver told me to be especially careful delivering sodas to the juvenile wing in the last place. He had had to chase a kid 100 yards down the hall to retrieve three cases of sodas the previous week. What was particularly impressive was that the kid was wearing handcuffs at the time.

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