When I was in school, many of my classmates were probably descended from settlers who built the town’s first log courthouse.
Others, however, stood out as the proverbial new kid In town.
Most likely, these students were surrounded by strangers because of the postwar model of the American dream: dad excels at work and gets offered a juicy promotion if he will simply load up the station wagon and drag his dutiful wife, their two-point-five kids and the family dog halfway across the country so he can work his magic as a plant manager, efficiency expert or chemical engineer.
Let’s not dwell on a corporation’s arrogance in dispatching an ambitious “yes man” (who can’t make his own coffee!) to straighten out the yokels at the company operation in Podunk. (“You still haven’t got the coffee quite right, Miss Samuelson. Maybe if you wore pearls while making it, like my wife does. No, no, THAT’S the hand for holding the toilet brush while wearing pearls ...”)
But I digress. According to the Wall Street Journal, job relocations are becoming an increasingly harder sell for businesses. In the late 80s, one-third of workers moved to seek new opportunities elsewhere; but now the hassle of selling a home (a well as many other factors) causes the once-coveted career advancements to be turned down flat.
Today’s workers have more options than the parents of the Baby Boomers did. The miraculous internet makes it easier to track down jobs closer to home, or even work from home – assuming you haven’t signed over your home to a Nigerian widow.
With the increase of two-income families, it’s difficult to get an employee to relocate unless their spouse also has a high-paying new job waiting. (“Benefits? Sure, the Lions Auxiliary will throw you a benefit carwash when you see your first paycheck.”)
Complex divorces and joint custody make relocations impractical. (“Honest, I thought the drone could get Junior back to Jersey without running afoul of duck hunters.”)
Modern parents consider how a move would disrupt the friendships and academic continuity of their children. A far cry from the old days of “Don’t worry if the local girls won’t invite you to their slumber party, Princess. The products we manufacture will probably make them sterile and unable to host slumber parties when they grow up, anyway. Chuckle”
More and more workers are tending to the needs of aging parents and would feel guilty traveling thousands of miles away just for a little more prestige. (“Yes, Mom, I know you fed me with those breasts. But the other retirement home residents don’t need visual aids when you reminisce about it. And assure Dad I’ll get the Forestry Service to trim his toenails again.”)
Finally, Americans are no longer as skilled at conning themselves. (“C’mon, this move is a chance to grow and learn new things. And as soon as we get settled, I’m running for the school board and city council and Rotary Club presidency, so we can remake this town just like home. Bwahahahaha …”)
I still live about 15 minutes from the former site of the hospital where I was born. I don’t regret not climbing corporate ladders.
Chasing the Almighty Dollar isn’t worth hauling 2.5 children across the country. Especially the point-five child. (“Yeah, I’ve needed 326 bathroom breaks, but I have only point-five of a bladder!”)
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