For the last couple of months I have had a "temporary, full time" job with the public schools delivering food and cashiering. I was filling in for Janet, who hurt her back, and who has been easing back into the position for the last couple of weeks. This means we have been delivering together, which has given Janet and I a little chance to converse and get to know one another. I listen to classical and jazz, she listens to 70s rock. I pay attention to current events , she could care less. I like to read and discuss ideas, she has never read a book and only talks about her family. Im a radical leftist, she has no politics. She loves gossip, I try not to know to much about anybody. So it has been interesting.
As a "blue collar" worker most of my life, I have run into plenty of folks whose lives center around the job, the things a paycheck buys and whats on television but Janet takes it to a whole new level. When I told her my wife was in Vietnam she said "thats where we were in a war, right?" I said yes and she asked who it was we were fighting there. She has never been to Helena, the state capital, about three hours away. She hated chinese food and would never want to go there, either. She could no more find Venezuela on a map than she could climb Everest.
So the conversations, what there was of them, revolved around her son, the only thing that gave her life meaning. She told me how she waited on him hand and foot, catered to his every whim. She is very large and makes self deprecating jokes about her figure. Her self worth is wrapped up in, in fact defined by, how hard she can work, so she lifts to much and hurts herself, then moans and acts the martyr. She is a perfect wage slave , consumer citizen, what i call an American Idol. (Next to Deal No Deal and Survivor, her favorite show) Her son, if he doesnt get a football scholarship, is talking about joining the Marines. She says she opposes this decision, but i suspect she would be proud and would "support the troops".
Because she is oppressed and I need to remain compassionate, I am conflicted about calling her dumber than a box of rocks. But like so many jobs I have had, I am so glad thats over! You have nothing to lose but your chains. And even if they're invisible to you, they're still dragging you to the bottom.
Labels: compassion, false conciousness, Houdini