THE JOB GOBLIN
RANGE: Out by the coffee machine, under the transmission, on the punch card, and off for vacation. From the union halls of California, to the chain stores of Tennessee; in the thick of every job action, fighting for truth, social justice, and in the word of Samuel Gompers, “more.”
HABITS: This Blue-Collar Bugaboo is the patron sprite of the working man. When a gasket cracks on a machine at the head of the assembly line, he sees to it that his guys take home good wages for eight hard hours digesting sugar buns in the lunch room. Days sacred to him are Labor Day, sick days, travel days, paydays, and half days. He distributes his favors to working men and women on a strict seniority basis, seeing to it that the most skilled and experienced of his people do the least demanding tasks, leaving apprentices free to sharpen their talents assembling spacecraft circuit boards and to acquire experience fabricating cardiac monitors for the emergency rooms of America’s hospitals. His most spectacular product is Joe X, a New Jersey longshoreman who collects workman’s compensation in addition to his regular salary for a lower back injury he sustained while lifting the phone to call in sick to a no-show job. Joe, in his turn, creates jobs by collecting unemployment insurance for his dog, social security for his dead wife’s two incarcerated cousins, and antique firearms for the walls of his den. The Job Goblin is despised and feared by management, who feel that they are the only ones entitled to a good day’s pay for spending the afternoon digesting an exotic, tax-deductible lunch.
HISTORY: The Job Goblin is of British ancestry and has bestowed upon the English a reputation for idleness unequaled north of the equator. It was he who inspired the legendary Piers Plowman to slip a cow patty from his liege lord’s field and smuggle it home for soup stock. He travelled with the Vikings to their mysterious Vine-land colony, where he urged them with such extremes of lethargy that they not only failed to plant crops, but also to build houses or wear clothes, and as a consequence, they froze to death on the stroke of the autumn equinox. The Job Goblin has since inspired “have-nots” to become “have-lots” by forming “brotherhoods” of one kind or another. (When negotiating with management, it is helpful to have a brother who is a hood.) Although rising unemployment saddens and offends “J.G.,” he remains personally unaffected; like many a union official, he has a lifetime contract.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Like many fairies, the Job Goblin is never called by his proper name: down at the plant they call him “Jack the Steward,” on the waterfront he goes by the name “Johnny Friendly;” in show biz slang he’s known as “The Green Man;” and around your house when you’re not home, they call him “Jody the Milkman.”