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Ouch! Today's strip hits way too close to home. I work as a Dean in a public HS in New York. In the school building I am a visible presence, the students are friendly and respectful (mostly), and I am literally "seen." As I leave school each day my visibility to the students who saw me earlier in the day drops to just about zero by the time I am a block from the school building. At that point I am just another adult who does not register at all. When I first encountered this phenomenon I thought it was purposeful, but as time has passed, and I have seen the genuine "startle" when I engage a student, I have come to see it as the same unconscious process of the checkout girl in today's strip. Thanks as always for nailing an undeniable developmental milestone.
As a former cashier of a major retailer, may I point out that having invisible customers has everything to do trying to meet the store goal to scan and bag 700 items an hour, keeping the lines at no more than three customers per checkstand, making sure to get that pesky rewards card and to do the financial transaction right. Make a mistake on the transaction and you get fired. (Being union doesn't make it any easier, as it makes you a target for management to attack when payroll has to be trimmed.) Do it for 6 to 8 hours a day, for low pay. Customers will complain to management if they think you're taking their time by being too friendly to another customer. Heck, I'm surprised she asked "Paper or plastic?" as the corporation said not to ask, to just do plastic unless the customer asks otherwise. A paper bag costs the store 5 cents each, while a plastic bag is a fraction of a cent.
I'm a B-Boomer too, and I've certainly noticed this. But ours is hardly the first generation to get ignored by younger people. I can recall doing it myself in my friskier days. Maybe there's an extra sting to it in times when the youth culture reigns supreme. But take it in stride, because it's only gonna get worse for us!
Oddly, I've become more visible lately. I recently turned fifty (yeah!), and have been practicing my people skills with bus drivers, cashiers, etc. I even say "Bless you" to strangers when they sneeze. Perhaps part of it is that, having been happily married for fifteen years, I don't hope for special attentiveness from attractive young women. Of course, my husband has other explanations for that last bit. Heh.
Your strip today was dead on. For the past several years, I have been telling my friends and family that people in our generation (aging baby boomers) are invisible. They didn't seem to understand what I meant, until I showed them today's comic. Loved it. Thanks!
I like the ambiguity of the reality of the Red Rascal. His parents think it is pure delusion and yet other established characters (Duke) interact with his reality. It's the play/movie Harvey all over again!
The comment in today's strip about the rich learning to operate with fewer employees during the downturn is exactly right. I worked for over 40 years for a wholesaler supplying supermarkets and other mass market retailers. Changes over the last 15 years have been massive job killers. The easiest to see are the self-serve checkout lanes which are effectively robots that can each eliminate between 2 and 3 full-time jobs since they operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Keep in mind that they pay no social security, medicare or workers' comp payments. Am I crazy; or is there something wrong with a tax system that favors robots over people? Moreover, these lanes are just the tip of the iceberg. Similar job losses behind the scenes throughout the supply chain have been far, far worse. Our retail/distribution sector is currently in the middle of its equivalent of the industrial revolution. Trade has been mechanized. Retailers are no longer mom and pop stores but the end points of giant integrated machines stretching back to the manufacturers and farms. Capital investment in this environment tends to kill jobs as machines replace people. Such is progress. However, giving tax breaks to promote such change is like throwing gasoline on an already raging fire. It is a great policy for the welfare of robots and machines; not so great for people. Unfortunately, robots and machines do not buy much.
I read the Mudline comments scrolling across top of your home page and have to wonder if Americans and maybe North Americans have ever heard of civil discourse. Insults are not a debate! I loved the clip of the British House of Commons recently, when Cameron (for all his many faults) made telling points using logic as well as humour in a time-tested tradition. I believe the USA used to echo this tradition from the mother country. Now it's all vitriol and insults and mistruths. "If I say it enough, it must be true." I was hoping Obama might change the conversation, but I could be hoping in vain. Let us hope higher ideals than those represented by people in government now will prevail.
As one of those vampiric teachers lounging around on my endless vacation, thank you so much for addressing this. I don't know how we became Public Enemy Number 2, but it's been frustrating how little defense we've received from the mainstream. Cheers!
I absolutely loved the July 21, 2011 strip. My husband and I are retired teachers who, for years, have listened to some wealthy "friends" make snide remarks about how they are overtaxed and teachers overpaid. The irony, they both were teachers at one point! How soon some people forget.
Today's Flashback strip from 40 yerars ago offers offers another fine example of your 'up-to-date' comics. With a Physics degree and an Electrical Engineering degree I can relate to having to take a manual labor job (jackhammer and blow torch) to pay the bills, and then I can relate to getting laid-off said manual labor job. Politicians like to say "workers are the engine of the ecomony." In that analogy, this worker feels like a tire; used for all I'm worth, possibly by a multi-generational corporation, then discarded. Thank's for the shout-out!
Well, I hadn't realized that running the Doonesbury Town Hall was one of those truly vital jobs that leave people groping around aimlessly when they go unfilled for even a short time. I coped much better with the postal strike! I am consoling myself with the thought of an exceptionally rich period for Blowback as you catch up. So I wanted to get this into the queue in time for you to have it while putting together that first, delicious burst of Blowback after your return. Welcome back, David!
I have taught children with disabilities for 30 years. My profession has never gotten the respect it deserves, but it has never before been subject to the insults and outright lies of the last year. Thank you for noticing. Your comic this morning made me smile, as I started thinking about the new school year. Perhaps we are turning away from this sorry trend, and back to looking at how we can make an education system for the 21st century.
Hooray for today's strip about help for the deserving rich! Perfect.
The pair of strips that ran July 18 and 19 just epitomize Doonesbury -- this is GBT at his best. The currents and counter-currents eddying around these catch with gentle humor and irony our current national malaise. As an American worker -- though much older and more level-headed than Jeff -- I can sympathize whole-heartedly with his yearning to break out of the doldrums we routinely have to put up with; yet he is under no illusions about what is driving the current fiasco in Washington. These strips are masterpieces: from the not-so-hip ring tone to the amazing layers of significance behind "Arab autumn"; from MacDonalds as the emblem for America's cluelessness to Jeff's clientele's complete understanding of what America seems to stand for now. And all woven together with such seeming effortlessness!
I read today's strip -- fantasy Red Rascal alter ego devolving to Jeff killing time at laptop devolving to Dad asking if he's heard from McDonald's yet -- to my 24-year-old daughter who's home for a visit. She is a bright college graduate now in her second year as a Starbucks barista earning <$10/hour (plus benefits, which is why people work there), and she so got the punch line that she went directly to her laptop and caught up on the key story lines of your strip. So you have a new fan. Thank you for summing up modern life so succinctly, from so many real points of view.
Following the high tragedy of Ray Hightower with the low comedy of the Red Rascal an almost Shakespearean dramatic device. (Shades of the drunken porter scene in Macbeth!) Once again, well done, GBT.
I grew up near Fort Drum. A brother who still lives up there used to drive taxi. He told me stories. I find Ray's situation with the truck completely credible. He's just lucky he parked it in a pond and not the Black River (level four to six rapids, last I knew).
I had to comment on Ray's confusion. Sometimes it's hard to say if I'm on foot or horseback. In addition to having to deal with the aftermath of 5-minute patrols I hope he doesn't get caught up in the UCMJ and find that he's AWOL from Drum. 300 miles is a serious drop-out.
It is interesting and sad to see how Ray, whom we are used to seeing as a powerful figure in full combat gear, has become so diminished in appearance, almost pathetic, now that he is out of his conditioned circumstance.