I am supposed to be at work, but I chose to not risk my life and our family’s only car, to go earn 10 hours worth of wages. But I am sure financially, many people have decided to try for the sake of the paycheck they need to earn.
While catching up online, I ran across yet another article about warehouse work, written by an “undercover” journalist who spent (gasp) an entire WEEK experiencing the what people spend years doing. I still don’t know why these journalists don’t interview the people doing the work. Hear the words of the person who is stuck in exhausting monotony all day, who doesn’t know of a way out.
But one topic he covers well is the seasonal worker situation. In the last few weeks I have seen hundreds of them come into our warehouse. They are poorly trained and cause a great deal of chaos with simple mistakes, like putting product totes on conveyors the wrong direction, jamming up the line, over and over. We veterans (of 3 months) are amazed at what they don’t know about the basics of this very simple job. From this crop of temps, they will glean permanent employees. Our warehouse is barely getting started – with only one floor of four in operation, so many will have a chance of becoming full-time hires. You can easily discern who wants to stay, and who doesn’t care. Some are over-dosing on energy drinks, while others stroll along, stopping frequently to visit, window shop, or even take their shoes of and sit down for awhile. That will earn you deliverance pretty quickly.
But generally, a seasonal worker may not have much of a chance for a long-term job. Our retail holiday cycle demands huge armies of temporary workers. People want to blame the corporations for unfair hiring practices, when in actuality, it would be impossible to keep a staff year around to meet the demands of Christmas. This isn’t an employer driven problem, but a consumer created one.
I added to the problem as I spent my snow day shopping online for my own kids’ Christmas presents. Now I know first hand the misery I am contributing to. At work we often try to be thankful. Pay is better than fast food. No angry customers in our faces. Working independently. But there is no way around the fatigue and the pain it wreaks on our bodies, the old and young alike. I have seen people with serious physical limitations scooting their carts along with the rest of us. I feel ashamed for complaining when I see them, but why do they have to do this too? I try to be thankful, thinking of the thousands of people held in hard labor camps – with little food and no days off – cut off from friends and family. I have so much to be thankful for.
Yet still. As I have continued to say, this is not the function in life that God created the incredible wonders of being human for. This is robbery of what He meant life to be – yet we have accepted it as necessary. Every time I shop – online, or in a mega-store, I am feeding this system. I am more convinced than before, that I want to pursue a life that has less negative impact on the people and planet, and teach others how to be more free of it as well. We can’t detach completely, but we can do better. I have seen that the need for things to be BIG, whether it’s fast-food chains, or consumer product distributions, it brings negative consequences. Because of this practice, our food supply is now compromised in safety and very vulnerable to disruption. Mass production began the factory jobs. All of this has created tons of consumer goods and cheap food, but at what cost to ourselves? Eventually, the bills come due. The more we can produce locally, the healthier we will be. There is no turning back now all the way, at least not without a major shift in energy source and consumption rates. But I greatly desire to be stepping in a direction away from the cliff, if at all possible. If nothing else, than for the sake of my own conscience and what I am creating for future generations. Maybe that’s what happens when you become a grandparent. You realize, you have a lineage. What are they going to have to live with?
Life is so precious – and we cannot flourish and thrive and give of ourselves in our intended potential when this becomes our way of life. There is a better way, and we intend to pursue it.
In February, my husband is going to take a certification class in Permaculture Design. We are getting old and have more to learn than we will live to see, but like the tree we should have planted yesterday, no time like the present.