Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The factotum's angry perspective.
During the height of the great recession, the only job I could find was at a car wash in a very affluent area. The car wash also included a chevron station. There were days I had to literally pump gas for the uber wealthy. I would curse the mornings and clock out with visions of severe punishment for the customers who had been unreasonable and or abusive.
Not all of my customers were terrible and wealthy. Many were working class, stuck in the rat race with the Joneses. On occasion stressed home owners would mention their home being under water. Some would come in to get their car detailed so they could re-sell it and get out from under a loan they could no longer afford. I sometimes felt a kinship with this kind of customer, however I was just the dude at the car wash in their eyes.
Some customers would come in an curse the Mexicans for taking all the jobs, and abusing our social safety net... This was upsetting and absurd to me, most of the men I supervised were from Mexico, Guatemala, and other parts of Central America. I needed to bite my tongue in order to keep my shitty and hated job. A especially bigoted couple came in often. One day this couple began to boast about how they were moving to Nevada. "We're moving to a state that doesn't waste its money on illegal Mexicans." The lady said as she ordered up a car wash. I wondered if she was blind, I was literally the only "gabacho" employed at this car wash.
The anecdote above didn't surprise me. The community this took part is the conservative metropole of an otherwise liberal state. The customer that left me absolutely dumb founded was an amiable man. This man asked me to pump his gas for him. He told me about how he was very happy with the Chevron stock he purchased some years back, it only provided him gains. If you look up the history of Chevron's stock price over the last five years, it has only gone up.
Gas prices have gone up and down; as of today they are near record highs. The point is, our loss was this man's (and every other shareholder of oil companies) gain. It doesn't take a PhD to understand the basics of supply and demand. If we consume less fuel, less of the products that need fuel to be manufactured, farmed and delivered, we are stilled locked in to a lose, lose situation. Under the current frame of our economic means of production, if we consume less, there is less demand. If there is less demand, there is less need for labour hours.
Of course if we consume less fuel and fuel related products less green house gases are emitted and Mother Earth gets a slightly fresher breath of air. Again I am at a dead lock. Stuck in the middle between what's best for the economy and the environment. The fact that we arrive at this impasse shows that our systems and structures, are outdated, arcane and in the end benefit nobody.
The blatant absurdity, in all of this is a refusal to move forward. I have since moved on from this job. That business wasted water to clean mostly inefficient big block SUVs. That business tried to scam poor immigrants out of wages with the promise of job loss. That job made one man rich at the expense of 63 hourly employees.
That terrible job, I watched hard working immigrants get verbally abused and shat on, I could do nothing but contribute to the flood gates of climate change, economic polarity and to the system I have grown to hate. This is not some kind of metaphor. It is a common place occurrence. How may of us really get to work jobs that add to the social good more than the bottom line of a harmful enterprise? I wish I knew that number was growing and we were on the path to a new consciousness. A consciousness of seven generations, not a addiction to short term profit. We can see more than ever that the machine has control of us. We do not control the machine and haven't for sometime.
Turn off, tune in and let's begin to dismantle it all.