Supper Party: Joe the Plumber

While sitting here at my desk, wondering who my next invitation for dinner might go to, I found myself seeking the company of an ordinary citizen like myself.

What about the ubiquitous “Joe the plumber?”, the man whose name has been temporarily hijacked and used as the vehicle for the (potentially) overtaxed, cash-strapped American, the average Joe who just wants to start a small business and support his family.

Far be it from me to cash in on the abundance of satire related to this average individual, since this topic of economic hardship regarding the self-employed is close to heart. I have seen up close the effects of our economy on small businesses. Up until a few months ago, my husband was one of these small business owners. After enjoying years of growth and prosperity, and what looked to be a secure future, once the housing crisis began, he watched his business dwindle from an occasional job to absolutely no work on the horizon, forcing him to swallow his pride and go back to work (for someone else).

This has ricocheted to all of the businesses that he deals with. Conversations with his fellow business owners used to be how to manage workloads and meet construction deadlines, but now sadly, discussions are about moving on, going to work for someone else to make ends meet–while often taking a pay cut. When you are in the midst of having something that you have worked so hard to bring to life and painstakingly managed with superior customer service and excellent craftsmanship wither away, it is a disheartening event?bringing to light a harsh reality many are encountering.

As with every cloud, there is a silver lining. The lining, well, it’s a lesson. I’ll spare you the “glass is half full” rhetoric from here. But what is happening in the lives of the millions of Americans who’ve taken a devastating hit from current economic events is real. And just because many have escaped the immediate brunt of the unrealized economic recession, many haven’t. I worry for these people. And I pray they too find a way to make ends meet.

My great Grandmother is 96. She lived through the Great Depression. Starting work full time at 13, she earned 20 cents an hour, working 10 hours a day, remaining employed by this same company for 50 years. Nearly everyone has a relative with a similar story that resurfaces when times warrant. Her thrifty manner used to bore me, but now?now I understand.

Joe, I bet you’ve really been teased by many a friend over your 15 minutes of fame as the poster child for the plight of the (aspiring) small business owner. This invitation is not about belittling, but about exploitation (yours and ours), on its many levels that we’ve witnessed here of late. Maybe your newly acquired film crew could oblige you on a road trip to Murfreesboro, Tenn. What do you say? Good food, good company?honest. Just give me a call before you come to make sure I’m home (I might be out looking for a job).


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