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What’s With That: Unemployment, sex changes, & minding your manners

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What’s with the news: Once there was (is, don’t worry she’s not dead) a woman named Holly Stuard, whose husband thought he was some wacky sitcom dad. The whole family was on their way out to dinner when Stuard’s jaw dropped at the sight of herself, job qualifications, and "Please Hire My Wife" plastered across an enormous roadside billboard.
Stuard has been searching for a job ever since she was laid off from her teaching position at the University of Toledo due to budget cuts last year. After months of watching his wife struggle in the unforgiving job market, husband Brandon decided to take matters into his own hands.

Despite admitting that she would have vetoed the billboards had her husband discussed the idea with her beforehand, Stuard admits that the $700 for one week of advertising will be worth it if it helps her find a job. She can say what she will to the reporters, but I imagine there was at least a week of dinners soaked in awkward silence while Brandon sat wondering what happened to the laugh track.

What’s with us: So what is with the job market? Terri Carpenter is the public information officer for Sacramento Works Inc., the career and job training arm of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). She has over 15 years of hands-on experience working with first-time job seekers to career professionals, who are seeking advice after a layoff or looking for a mid-career change. Carpenter was kind enough to share her thoughts with The Sacramento Press via email.

“The article is reflective of how the loss of a job impacts an individual’s entire life and family,” said Carpenter. “Not only are we talking about loss of income, but the impact of what a job loss does to one’s career plan. Job loss and finding the right job is one of the most stressful events many individuals face in their lives. Many are willing to try anything to get back into the workforce, and because of the competition you find individuals trying tactics that they think will help them stand out.

“With the current job front being so competitive, with so many qualified applicants and so few good opportunities available, the man was willing to try an extraordinary tactic to find employment for his wife. While the billboard is a creative strategy, I doubt that she will be able to get a teaching job from the billboard advertising. While some school official or acquaintance may inform the woman of a job opening in education, she will still have to go through a structured hiring process that the billboard advertising will not be able to influence.”

Regarding our local job market, Carpenter had this to say: “On the Sacramento job front, we are beginning to see more job opportunities, but not enough to account for the number of those unemployed. The starting salaries are lower than most people expect, want or need, and that is causing many job seekers frustration. Many individuals are finding themselves making 50 percent less than they were before they were laid off or lost their job through circumstances beyond their control in the ‘great recession.’ Job seekers are trying to remain competitive, but find that it is hard to remain positive in an environment where there are so few well-paying jobs.

Congratulations! Now if you’ll just turn in your dignity to the dean of students and fill out this KFC application.
“The best industries with projected hiring growth are health care, technology and administrative services. For Sacramento, the sectors which have caused the economic downturn to be sustained in this region are declining in government hiring, and most importantly, the government layoffs especially at the local level. Two important sectors where the jobs were decimated are construction and the mortgage and financial industry.

“The biggest mistake I have seen is that many job seekers wait until their unemployment is exhausted before beginning their job search. Then, because of the finances, they are desperate and need a job right away, but with the economic environment being what it is, many individuals are finding that it takes them six months to one year to find a decent job.

“The best advice I can give someone is to start the job search process sooner rather than later,” Carpenter offered to job seekers. “Also, change up your resume and make it specific to each job application. Brush up on your interview skills. The days of calling an employer and handing them your resume are over. Post your resume on all the major job boards. Network — go to chamber mixers or professional networking groups such as Sacramento Professional Network. Tap into the free resources in your community. Sacramento Works is a federally funded program where employment and training services are free.”

If anyone wants to foot the bill for a $700 billboard with my resume and winning smile — go for it. My qualifications include the knowledge of an array of useless trivia, sarcasm, and an enviable sense of style. Seriously though, my heart goes out to those waist-deep in the unemployment muck. Keep at it, and remember that you are not alone.

What’s with the news: U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf is making waves as the first federal judge to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a transgender prison inmate.

Michelle Kosilek was convicted as Robert Kosileck for the murder of his wife Cheryl in 1990. Michelle has received hormone treatments and now lives as a woman in an all-male prison, and Judge Wolf ordered the taxpayer-funded surgery as the only treatment for Kosilek’s “serious medical need.” He has left the decision on where and how to house Kosilek after the surgery up to prison officials.

Opponents to the decision call the surgery an elective procedure, and therefore not medically necessary. However, the Department of Correction’s own medical experts testified otherwise. I have the sneaking suspicion that this is going to piss off a lot of fiscal conservatives (or, you know, every fiscal conservative).

What’s with us: Ben Hudson is the executive director at the Gender Health Center, focusing on the needs of transgender and gay individuals and their families in Northern California. Hudson is also the co-founder of the Sacramento Transgender Coalition and Trans Families. He’s here to discuss the implications of Wolf’s ruling, and to address misconceptions regarding the trans community in general.

“Decisions and legislation like this are coming out all across the United States surrounding various systems of healthcare,” said Hudson. “The statement is simple: trans people are entitled to the same healthcare rights as anyone else. The plaintiff in this case is very articulate about explaining why her health needs should have the same priority as any other prisoner’s needs. I believe in equal access to healthcare for every human, especially in the wealthiest country on the planet. Trans-related healthcare needs are just as valid as the healthcare needs of anyone else.

“What is also clear is that decisions like this force research and data compilation about an ignored segment of our population, and when the numbers are crunched it becomes obvious that the population of trans individuals in any healthcare system is so tiny that granting coverage for all trans people’s healthcare needs up to and including genital reassignment surgery makes almost no financial impact on the group of individuals covered through that healthcare system.

“It’s important to remember that it’s the individual who gets to decide for themselves how they identify, whether that be in regards to gender, cultural heritage, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. If a person identifies themselves as transsexual, they are likely indicating that their sex at birth was either male or female, and they plan to or have already undergone medical treatment to transition their sex to the opposite sex.
“One misconception is that a person’s transgender identity or experience is obvious by their appearance, whereas, in reality many transgender individuals pass easily as having been born the gender they transitioned to,” Hudson said, in closing. “Trans people come in all shapes, sizes and sexual orientations. Gender identity and the experience of transitioning one’s gender identity is not a lifestyle choice. Gender identity is one’s internal sense of how they conceptualize their own gender.”

I can’t even get a pap smear without hyperventilating, so at the point that someone is willing to have their swimsuit parts cut open and completely reconstructed, I have to believe that shit is seriously necessary. You can’t psychoanalyze someone out of their gender identity, just like you can’t psychoanalyze me into having a third arm. Judge Wolf (appointed by former president Ronald Reagan, by the way) is indeed breaking new ground. I tip my hat to you, sir.

Seriously though you should try my therapist. I used to be a pomeranian.
What’s with the news: To any of you planning a trip to Brussels, you best be prepared to act a lady or gentleman. Recent legislature now makes “rough jostling” and slinging insults punishable by law.

Fines range between 75 and 200 euros (or about USD 95-260) for shoving or pushing wherein no harm is caused, or insults that are “racist, homophobic, or otherwise.”

Now I’m from Wisconsin, where we greet strangers on the street as if we have any idea who in the hell they are.  I’m the kind of  person who makes idle chit-chat with the cashier at my gas station, the barista at my coffee shop, and anyone else who smiles and seems willing to engage in some cheery yet inconsequential conversation.  I highly appreciate good manners and just general friendliness.  However, this whole thing has a bit of an Orwellian feel to it.

What’s with us: Rebecca Black is a credentialed teacher, etiquette professional, writer, and founder of Etiquette Now! and Got Etiquette? She creates and teaches custom etiquette workshops; writes articles, booklets and lesson plans; and answers questions daily. No one cares about good manners more than Black. So what’s she got to say about all of this?

“On first glance, I found myself thrilled at the prospect of a rude-free zone or city," Black said regarding the story, "That is something I welcome and encourage daily. After the first few seconds, however, I considered the reality of the law. As much as I would like all people to be nice to each other, I do not agree with legislating behavior such as this. Monitoring others’ manners is in itself ‘rude.’

“Etiquette is basically the behaviors most commonly found and expected when we are out in public. For the most part, we learn these rules by paying attention to what is the most well-mannered behavior exercised by the masses. For example, in our society it is considered rude to step in between two people talking without saying ‘Excuse me.’ We all know this. When a person breaks this rule, we regard this as rude. When we break these societal rules, we appear clueless. When we choose actions or behaviors that will affect others in a positive manner, we are using good manners. When we don’t consider others’ feelings and behave as if we are entitled, we are behaving ill-mannered.

“It is unfortunate that so many don’t know what is thought to be common manners, such as allowing elderly people to exit an elevator first. Respecting our elders seems to be a lost behavior. However, the worst good-manners offense, in my opinion, concerns cellphone use in public. Many people do not realize that the person sitting with them is more important than their cellphone. When two or more people are together, they should concentrate their attention on each other, and not on a little box.

“Basically, I think most people have good manners or at least try to behave well-mannered," said Black.  "Many don’t know what is proper, but they appear to want to know. Of course, when the likes of Angelina Jolie and Sean Ditty Combs take etiquette classes, one should notice that etiquette is now ‘cool.’”

That will be 150 euros Maggie, and no dessert for the next week.

I highly doubt the U.S. government will start legally enforcing etiquette any time soon (see: ever). I do wonder, though, if in Brussels I could get them to fine my weird neighbor who is always throwing rocks at my cat. That shit is hella rude.


Each week "What’s With That" will find local experts from the Sacramento area to weigh in on national and international news stories. Stumble across an interesting item? Wondering, "What’s WITH that?" Email whatswiththat.sacramentopress@gmail.com with your ideas! Or, if you’d like to be added to the WWT mailing list, send me an email with the subject line “LIST.”

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