Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher

One of the problems with knowledge is sometimes it has a “pull-by date” that you don’t really notice until it’s too late — kind of like taking a swig out of the milk carton that had been lingering in the back of the fridge since the Mariners’ season had some hope of success.

That pretty much describes the entire college process we’ve gone through with Aidan over the past year or two.

Heading into this endeavor, two sentences were prevalent in my mind:

I went to college.

I know all about college.

Those two sentences can now be amended to:

I went to college prior to the dawn of modern civilization.

I know nothing about college.

This has been driven home repeatedly and most recently in regard to college employment. It never occurred to me that Aidan would have a hard time finding a job on the University of Willamette campus.

Back in the day, getting a regular student job at the University of Washington required going to an office, giving them your class schedule and walking out with what was almost certainly to be a job washing dishes.

The more desirable work study jobs at the UW were almost always office jobs. I unsuccessfully applied for work study every year, dreaming of an office job where I’d sit at my desk for my three or four-hour shift shooting the breeze with my coworkers either about what they did the past weekend or their plans for the coming weekend, depending on the day of the week. There would be a stack of three or four papers on my desk and some top-notch office supplies including a pro-quality desk stapler. I never pictured what I’d be doing to get paid. It was the perfect job.

Aidan’s situation is different. He is going to a small school with far fewer jobs and a system that gives priority to the sizable portion of the student body receiving work study grants as part of their financial aid award. Word on the Willamette parent Facebook page (where parents go to overreact in a safe environment) is that freshmen students without work study often have to wait until spring quarter for a campus job to open.

A campus job is convenient but a brief scan of the job listings reveal multiple career opportunities for “sandwich artists” in the vicinity of campus. Aidan took almost all of the Gallery One grade school arts classes so he should be well qualified.

But working in the private sector does add another element to employment. When I worked at the UW is was almost impossible to get fired.

As far as I could tell — and I tested this out personally — it was impossible to get fired for job performance-related issues. The capital offense for which there was absolutely no reprieve was eating. The UW policy was to either repurpose food at the end of the day — where do you think “western” soup came from? — or throw away food. Not only did employees not get discounted meal as part of their shift, they had to throw away perfectly edible food. The only onsite firing I witnessed was when a coworker was caught in a walk-in cooler eating an omelette a customer decided she did not want. He was escorted off the premises.

But as long you were willing to follow one stupid, wasteful rule or were savvy enough to not get caught, you were guaranteed employment.

That’s one less stressor in what can be a stress-filled environment. I spent four years in the dish rooms and at the grills of a variety of UW food service outlets.

A private sector job though … standards might be applied.

Luckily Aidan is not as naturally insulting as I am. He’s a quality young man, which should keep him employed, at least until a campus job opens up.

Contact managing editor Michael Gallagher at mgallagher@kvnews.com

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