Friday 19 February 2010

What Does A Worker Look Like?

(For Giovanni)

Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutamus.


No, I’m sorry, I can’t talk to you – it’s not allowed.
How long have I been standing? Well my last break was two hours ago.
Yes, it does get tiring – and the customers can be so rude and demanding.
But they’re always right – ha ha!
How much am I paid? $14.75 an hour.
Union? Shhh! You’ll get me fired!
No union here.


Do I look drained? Yeah, well, I suppose I am – it’s been a long shift.
You bet the callers can be rude and demanding!
And I’ll tell you something else; some of them are really stupid.
But you have to be nice – or they ask for your supervisor
And that’s something you don’t need.
Too much negative feedback and you’re gone.
And, of course, it’s all recorded.


Pretty? Are we? I suppose we are – it’s all part of the buzz.
Propositioned? Oh yes, all the time.
And they’ll cop a feel too – if they think they can get away with it.
What, these? You bet they’re heavy.
Yep, twice – and God, did I hear all about it.
The boss docked my wages. Seriously!
I haven’t dropped any since.


It’s the looks on their faces, mate.
Like we’re from another planet.
Sitting in their big, air-conditioned SUVs
While we’re out here melting the soles of our boots.
Breathing in benzene and bitumen.
Hot? Shit mate, you’ve no idea – 45-50 degrees!
But, you get used to it.


Tired? I’m always tired these days – it just never stops.
You want to go home at 5, have a family life,
But the looks you get – the sly little smiles – like they’re saying:
"That’s not going to look so good on your next performance review, is it?"
The team manager? He’s a real bastard – I hate him.
But, what can you do?
No one else is going to pay the mortgage.

Chris Trotter
February 2010


Olwyn said...

This post should not go without comment and yet there is nothing to say that it does not say itself - it is the quietly spoken truth that stops the conversation. How far away from slavery is service work performed under these conditions?

RedLogix said...

And I’ll tell you something else; some of them are really stupid.

Not just stupid...predictably it's the older women with educated accents who will unloaded a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse if they don't get what they want.

Anonymous said...

Sweatshop workers in China are treated better than those in the hospitality industry here.

The employer-employee relationship has large aspects of it left over from the master/slave (or servant) relationship of old.

And to those who say, 'if you dont like your job, just leave' - if you cannot find another job (which would most likely be the case), there is a 14 week stand down period for the dole if you leave your job, so a lot of people have to put up with misery so they can have food to eat and a roof over their head.


Treeleaper said...

Successive governments since 1984 have said they want to create a high wage economy. What they haven't said that they didn't mean to include the people who do the actual work.