Dear Adam, I work at a candy factory at Wonka's Midwest Branch. Actually, I live there. My boss is nice . . . a bit quirky. But I'm an illegal alien. I miss my family. I can't vote. I feel slightly guilty that I haven't paid a dime of income tax for the past 40 years. And I'd like to take a break from experimenting with radiation and pulling fat kids out of high-powered suction tubes. I want to test the waters of employment elsewhere, but I'm afraid if I ask my boss for vacation time, he'll ship me back to Oompa Loompa Land. What should I do?
--OverWonked in Omaha.
I feel your pain. From what I know of your predicament, your boss is a shrewd businessman who puts a premium on trust and loyalty. If you violate that trust, you lose, you get nothing, good day, sir. If you want to try something new, be honest and forthcoming to your boss. Stay positive. Tell him about your goals outside the candy factory, and he may give you the opportunity to follow your dream. But that's the smaller issue here.
On a grander scale, you need to think about your fellow Oompa Loompas. You have a lot more influence over the situation than you think. Your boss created a loophole in the traditional international outsourcing trend by bringing you and your fellow expatriate OLs out of your home country. Instead of exploiting the weak economy of Oompa Loompa Land, he brought you across U. S. borders. He certainly showed you compassion, but he also exhibited blatant contempt for immigration and employment laws. Bottom line: your boss is a nice guy, but he's breaking the law.
My advice? Rally together as OLs. Formally demand the opportunity to apply for work visas and eventually citizenship. Avoid the temptation to unionize. Just stay organized and civilized, and you should be fine. Your boss might be more of a dreamer than a detail person, so appoint your most anal Oompa Loompa as a spokesman. He can help your boss address his employment problems without compromising his core business goals--this will only serve to build trust and create a win-win for everyone.
I know, you didn't really ask. You aren't really real. Still, though, think about it.