Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues

Did you ever wonder what’s going on in the mind and life of that person who’s washing your car or bussing your dishes? Did you ever think they might be a more capable person caught by circumstances, such as a criminal record?

Blues poet, Jim Croce, got inside one of those minds in his 1974 hit “Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues”:

Well, I had just got out from the county prison,
Doin’ ninety days for non-support.
Tried to find me an executive position,
But no matter how smooth I talked
They wouldn’t listen to the fact that I was a genius…

Even if he was a genius, you wouldn’t find out if you let that conviction put him into the menial labor bucket. And what if he’s telling the truth, that he is a really smart guy who can contribute a lot? There’s a social cost to excluding him.

You know a man of my ability,
He should be smokin’ on a big cigar.
But till I get myself straight I guess I’ll just have to wait
In my rubber suit a rubbin’ these cars…

Sounds like our hero gets it, he understands that he must take responsibility for getting himself “straight,” so let’s just hope that he does. And that his boss will notice that he can handle bigger responsibilities. Too often, if you get into one of these low-level jobs, you may feel stuck there for life.

We have argued many times on these blogs, that hiring ex-offenders can be a good move for many businesses. To be successful at it, you need to learn enough about the individuals in your job pool that you’ll have a chance to find the ones who can grow. No blanket rejections for any criminal history or conviction. If you aren’t the one to look deeper, maybe no one will.

So, baby, don’t expect to see me
With no double martini in any high-brow society news,
‘Cause I got them steadily depressin’, low down mind messin’,
Workin’ at the car wash blues.

Treat yourself to the whole song here.

About Michael Gaul

Michael is a results-oriented marketing executive with over two decades of experience in employment screening, physical security, and business process management. Michael has deep experience in human capital risk management and a passion for educating business leaders and HR professionals on strategies that tangibly protect their interests. Michael serves on the Board of the Secure Cash and Transport Association (SCTA) and is a member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS).
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