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Posts Tagged ‘helping neighbors’

Ellen Goodman’s article (Self-serve and Slave) in the Orlando Sentinel this morning had my head nodding all the way through. She drew the line at a dinner invitation to a restaurant where they hand you a platter of raw foods and a hot pot. She decided if she wanted to cook her own food she would eat at home. Ellen, we are sisters under the skin.

 

Perhaps I carry it too far. It annoys me to choose what goes on my hamburger. It’s a hamburger! Put everything on it like they do in Texas. I understand the concept of personalized sandwiches, but still don’t like to have to decide on each ingredient in a sub sandwich. I have to make those decisions in my kitchen every night.

 

But forgetting about food, Goodman recalls all the jobs we have to do for free now that stores once paid workers to do. We’ve been distracted by jobs sent overseas and don’t see how many jobs have stayed right here—but shifted to us – the ultimate free labor.  Ramming that first nozzle into our gas tank was the “gateway drug to self-help.”  Before we knew it, we were conducting our bank business with an automated phone or the Internet, storing our own medical records, copying and delivering reports, picking up scripts because our doctor stopped calling them in, analyzing our own prescription drug plan needs, weighing and slapping a price tag on produce, even checking out our own goods at Home Depot if we were so sappy, etc. etc.

 

Now I am picturing our parents or grandparents, poor as church mice by our standards, some living through the Depression, yet in many ways they were treated like royalty. Grocers kept a running tab for them, bankers knew and looked out for their finances, mechanics knew their car as well as their own, milk was delivered while they slept, clothes  brought to the fitting  room, doctors came to their home, long-time insurance agents advised on every aspect, and on and on. Sure they had to make many of their clothes, grow and can much of their food, share a family car, but the niggling little “unpaid jobs” that add up to a whopping weight on our shoulders were not present. They used that energy to help neighbors—and got help the same way.

 

You hear so many older people say they never knew they were poor. Maybe it’s because they weren’t. Maybe they were our rich ancestors.

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