I swear (or affirm) I will sell stuff

January 10, 2009 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

A few days ago I was hired for a temporary job at a university bookstore. I was one of hundreds of people hired to fortify the staff during the second semester rush, when hordes of freshman, grad students, undergrads, parents, and those who have a masochistic desire to be in crowds, will descend upon a three-story temple of words. For a few short weeks, my place of employment will become a microcosm, petri dish, and sump pump of humanity. But have no fear, for I am ready. I’ve been trained to deal with fear, confusion, frustration, anger, depression,and retail mania. At least as much as can be crammed into a three-hour orientation.

Being initiated into the public sector is a strange experience. I was a virgin at the beginning of the ritual, I became a whore by the end.

Because buried in the twenty-something pages of paperwork, was something so bizarre that it deserved more pause than I, ever-cognizant of the job market, gave it. Something so creepy that I expected Joe McCarthy to jump though the page and force me to sign or be blacklisted. Something that was as foreign to me as eating Larb Gai for breakfast. Something I signed because I needed to get out of the house. Something that went like this:

A. I, Roberta Gale solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of temporary sales assistant according to the best of my ability, so help me God (or so I do affirm).

It’s called a loyalty oath, and any public employee in the state has to sign one. Correction. Everyone working for the state doesn’t have to sign one. How ridiculous of me to even think that. That would be way too big-brother-ish.

B. Any officer or employee who fails to take and subscribe to the oath or affirmation provided by this section within the time limits prescribed by this section is not entitled to any compensation until the officer or employee does so take and subscribe to the form of oath or affirmation prescribed by this section.

So I guess it’s not that creepy, after all. You’re free to work at a state job, you just won’t get paid for it. But think about. Wouldn’t it make you feel better knowing that if you’re checking out your book and a bunch of guys in red uniforms with muskets and bayonets come charging in between the Biology and Mass Media sections, I am sworn to defend you?

And should you fear that the person running the register one lane over will join the other side and turn on all of us, don’t worry.

C. Any officer or employee having taken the form of oath or affirmation prescribed by this section, and knowingly at the time of subscribing to the oath or affirmation, or at any time thereafter during the officer’s or employee’s term of office or employment, does commit or aid in the commission of any act to overthrow by force, violence or terrorism as defined in section 13-2301 the government of this state or of any of its political subdivisions, or advocates the overthrow by force, violence or terrorism as defined in section 13-2301 of the government of this state or of any of its political subdivisions, is guilty of a class 4 felony and, on conviction under this section, the officer or employee is deemed discharged from the office or employment and is not entitled to any additional compensation or any other emoluments or benefits which may have been incident or appurtenant to the office or employment.

They’ll be canned. And they won’t even be eligible for unemployment or COBRA.

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A swear (or affirm) I will sell stuff How Many Times a Week Do You Do It?

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