Subway and Sheep
Not too long ago at a Subway Restaurant in Logan, WV, I was waited on by a pale and exhausted heavy-set lady who looked to be in her 20s. I asked her if she was okay and she replied that she was just tired because she hadn’t had a break yet. It was noon. She told me she came in at 6:30 and her help didn’t show up. When I entered, the store was empty so I asked her why she hadn’t taken a seat until someone came in.
“We aren’t allowed to sit down unless we clock out,” she replied, sweating.
I offered to eat in the store and start coughing if someone came in. “Just take a load off your feet in the back for a couple minutes.”
“The boss took away our chairs.”
At this point I was very upset and the reasons I deplore this society began to echo in my mind. All of a sudden, I remembered-from a previous meal-overhearing a co-worker speak to this same lady as if she was pregnant. Though I was scared I might be wrong and offend her, and even more scared that my memory was correct, I asked.
“The baby is due in 3 months.”
What kind of society forces pregnant women to wait hand and foot on somebody for 6 hours with no help and no breaks? What kind of people can sit by and let this happen?
Maybe this woman’s case was unusual, but everyday, millions of people world wide are forced to suffer in a job they hate to pay for medicine, food, and shelter (if they are lucky enough to have a job in the 1st place). Does it have to be this way? Does profit have to drive everything?
Jefferson thought the biggest threat to the nation was an exploitive upper class of people that put their own interests before justice, integrity, or patriotism. His solution was to create a more-level playing field by giving land to the landless and precluding the accumulation of capital via corporations and national banks. He thought that only a level field could reap a true meritocracy. Moreover, to keep the merited from abusing their earned power, governments would be small and local so that constituents could keep their representatives on a leash. Jefferson claimed that societies like some egalitarian Indian cultures he had studied were happier. Government, he thought, in the traditional sense was merely a “pretense” for rulers to divide “their nations into two classes.” He went on to compare these setups to wolves watching over the sheep.
History has certainly vindicated Jefferson’s fears. Power is not attained by merit or controlled by the popular will. Instead, it has been disengaged from politics! The structure of our government has insulated power by sequestering it in an arena called “economics” where only a so-called “invisible hand” can govern. But the truth is, power comes by and is sustained by exploitation and oppression. It is time for the sheep to rise above. Maybe people are naturally greedy, stupid, fickle, or “turbulent”-to use Hamilton’s descriptor. Still, wouldn’t sheep be better off watching themselves than in the hands of the wolves?
This black sheep thinks so.
This entry was posted on January 31, 2008 at 11:34 pm and is filed under Social and Political Commentary with tags exploitation, Jefferson, labor rights, sheep, Subway, west virginia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.