My UPS driver got here early today. I was surprised because I expected that the big snowstorm would make him late, so I asked him about it. He laughed and said he'd be late enough getting other places. He said a lot of drivers weren't available today and that he was loaded up with other people's routes - he didn't expect to finish before midnight.
I cautioned him to take his time and drive safely. He laughed again.
"We got a lecture on that this morning. Bad weather, drive carefully, be safe.."
By the way his voice trailed off I knew what was left out. "But make sure everything gets done on time?", I suggested.
He shook his head in agreement. "That's about it, yes."
"And your boss gets his bonus, right?"
He hesitated a minute. "You know, I used to really like this job. But since they put in the computers, they are on us every minute. Of course it's all about being competitive; I understand that. But I hate getting up in the morning - I have 24 years till retirement and I'm thinking about it already!"
I didn't want to hold him up. Our brief conversation probably exceeded the computers idea of how much time this delivery would take - he had a hard enough day ahead of him without risking "wasting time". I wished him good luck and turned to take my package into the house.
Yeah, I know it's all about being competitive. FedEx is out there beating up its drivers to cut their costs too. UPS can't afford not to be ruthless and uncompassionate about its human workers. Hey, they are lucky to have jobs, right? Like Bill Gates says, Life is not fair; get used to it.
Fine. This is the world we live in. A world where far too many people get up every morning hating their life. A world where the demands of the corporation never stop, where the workers know that nobody cares if they are over worked, stressed and full of despair.
I don't have an answer for this. Sure, some people can stand up and go out on their own. Unfortunately. most probably cannot. They are stuck, looking at decades of getting up in the morning to head off to a job they hate. It's little consolation that their bosses are likely under the same pressure - the spreadsheets must show profits or heads will roll. Push the workers harder because, hey, life's not fair, they are lucky to have jobs. Do more with less. Suck it up. Work harder. Work longer. Be a faceless drone and no, we do not care about your smoldering anger.
That's our world. Ain't it grand?
And when our driver does finally get home, maybe he'll put on the TV for a minute to wind down before he goes to bed. If he has kids, he missed seeing them. His wife may be sound asleep by now too - she probably has her own miserable job tomorrow morning.
Maybe he'll catch that Cadillac Escalade ad. You know, the one with the smug looking woman blasting through brightly lit tunnels? He'd like to imagine sitting in those leather seats, but he probably knows he never will. No, that's for the rich: the people who drive the economic engine that demands so much from him. They can buy the Escalades, the Lexus LX's.
Tonight's news will surely mention another $30 billion being handed over to AIG. His kids will be paying taxes for that. The big shots who work for AIG and caused this mess? Oh, they still have their fancy cars and mansions, he can be sure of that.
But he's too tired to think about that. He has to get some sleep so that he can deliver more packages tomorrow. He may hate his job, but what can you do. Life's not fair. He's lucky to have a job, right?
It's a grand world, isn't it?
I'm afraid that simmering resentment and anger may boil over someday soon. I think the current greed driven society will reverse itself. Unfortunately, when things like this reverse, there's risk of societal upheaval: riots, political insurrection. Even if the reversal is relatively calm, there is danger of swinging too far in the other direction. As much as I may detest living in a callous and uncaring society like we have now, I certainly wouldn't want to live where everyone is dragged down to the lowest common denominator, where anything that is seen as having "more" is viewed with suspicion, where an attempt to better your lot is seen as immoral.
I think those who are driving the Caddies now need to take heed. If they don't loosen up, if they keep demanding and taking, flaunting their wealth while driving the common man deeper into despair, they are fertilizing the seeds of discontent.
I don't think many people understand this. I wish more would.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-05-08 Anthony Lawrence
If you ask "Should we be in space?" you ask a nonsense question. We are in space. We will be in space. (Frank Herbert)