Factory Days / Office Lights
Another blood-sucking week is done. As the 22-year old told me on Friday, he was exhausted. I told him he had 40 more years to go. At least. Welcome to the meat-grinder, Millenials!
Rowing on the ‘wage-slave ship’ every day takes it out of you mentally and physically. The steady beat of the heart drum is not enough. A co-worker’s husband who works in a warehouse has many aches and pains. Can he last until retirement? Probably not. He wears the ‘working man’s vest’ which consists of a large Cordura waist-stomach belt. He’s thinking of getting an easier job. Just as the aging electricians try to squeeze into tiny spaces, or perch on high ladders, physically there comes a time when you can’t do it anymore. Does the Local have ‘easy duty?’ Probably not. Time to strap your body in protective sleeves. The women sitting in cubes get carpel-tunnel and overweight - even the young ones who think they will be gorgeous forever. After all, look at the sweet junk food in so many offices. Eyes literally get worn out staring at computer screens year after year. Chalk up lunchtime, commuting time and most of your day is gone. The boss thanks you. Can you thank yourself?
That is if you are lucky enough to have a steady job, and not have to eke out a living in other ways. Patching shitty ‘disruptive’ jobs together via internet phone? Waiting tables, standing behind counters, fast-food servicers, cooks getting cut and heated in the back, no or low tips for them. Care-work at home cleaning adult diapers that doesn’t pay or barely.
The weekend, which as the bumper sticker goes, was ‘Brought to you by the Labor Movement’ is disappearing for many workers, as second jobs, service jobs and overtime suck up life blood. Construction workers work three 24-hour shifts in biting cold, snow or rain, under the lash of the deadline. The mail carrier has another block added to his route, and another day proposed, as the privatizing capitalists attempt to destroy the public postal service and those who work in it. If you are a teacher, you are told you are the cause of high taxes, poverty and ignorance. It’s not us, its not class society, it’s you! So try finishing in an 8-hour day.
All you can do normally in a capitalist society is bargain for the highest price your labor will bring, and so reduce the bosses' take from your labor a tiny bit. In the U.S. unions help, your skill level helps, the city and state you live in help (woe to those who live in the South), your skin color, sex, class background and education help – or hinder. And most of all, the political strength of the working class helps. And that is in the toilet right now. Yet even if you are lucky enough to sell yourself to the highest bidder, you will still be intentionally worn out. You are still a wage-slave - perhaps in a golden cage. Only the lowest-watt bulbs don’t eventually understand that. Just take a look at the early morning bus and trains delivering you en mass to your work site! As hundreds exit to rush to their workplaces, we are really more like cattle than humans. Moo!
And in the same way, we are ‘lunch’ for the ruling class.
If you expect television or even film to reflect this very well, you'd be in for a disappointment. Fake shows like "The Office," "Two Broke Girls" or shows featuring cartoonish blue-collar fools working for UPS never look at actual work or real class-conflict. The closest we get on TV is magic or 'paternal' cops pretending to do 'serious' stuff - all mostly made up too.
As opposed to this, I’d like to announce that a book called “Factory Days” will be published in the next few months, authored by C.G. Gibbs, a local writer. It’s a fictional murder story of the 1980s blue-collar working class in Chicago and Minnesota that involves left politics. It will be published in eBook format, as well as paper, and will be stocked at Mayday Books. Look for it.
Other commentaries on work – “Marxism is Abolitionism,” below. Use blog search box, upper left.
February 7, 2015