I remember Martin Evans bitching about how backward our civilisation is concerning fundamentals, how reliant we are on this system of food distribution and the proxy technology that fills the gap between our hunger and knowing how to actually make bread. Louis CK also has a bit about god coming down and shitting all over humanity for what they’ve done to the planet, brown polar bears and the ridiculous superfluity of jobs, “just eat the stuff I left on the floor!” Both these bits are inspired by a good look at humanity, considering our competency as animals and how far we’ve slipped. When I read that domestic workers took the streets for a strike I thought about this.
See, if we had some sort of infrastructure meltdown we’d be fucked, “we’re 24 hours and two skipped meals away from barbarism”, Bob Black said. I think this is true, but how many of us aren’t even sure about modernity’s methods of survival. We’re a generation reliant on being served, an acquaintance I’ve acquired, through the years of eclectic pursuits, has this unique skill set. He doesn’t even make coffee in his own house, he doesn’t drive himself around or know how his toaster works. Everything gets done for him. So, something as complex as a global food distribution crumbling is far too grandiose a scenario to consider his ruin, all that would be needed is his house keeper and cook to skip a few days. We’re talking about a powerful man here, someone who shapes contemporary society, yet there are countless others with similar financial means who are equally as useless. I wouldn’t know what to do if restaurants closed, I’d be forced to consider the isles of grocery stores as a source of food. How to, exactly, transform a butternut into something delicious flummoxes me wholesale. I like the end product, soft, buttery sweet goodness that melts in my mouth, but give me the raw materials for such a venture and I assure you the side order will be a lumpy pat of inedible sadness.
How long will this go on, that we take for granted the little tasks that are cheap to solicit, but actually rather tedious to perform. Human hours are limited and dusting can be fucking time consuming, I’ve heard. It’s in this transaction that more value has to be heaped on the office of the domestic worker, the so called ‘servant’. If, as a suit, your time is billed at R1000 an hour- what value do you attach to the nanny who saves your time by running your household and feeding your children? Surely R20 an hour doesn’t cut it.
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