Modern Times

The Toilet Cleaner.

Here in the West, there are menial jobs that are done by those who cannot get any other work. The British didn’t want to pay a decent wage to the drivers of their busses, so chose to import labour from the Caribbean instead. The Americans nudged the German government to allow Turkish labour into the country so that business owners wouldn’t have to pay so much money for work they didn’t consider worth the money.

In countries that have clear economic demarcations there will be jobs that are poorly paid simply because nobody wants to do them. Well, in a properly structured economy, such jobs would have to be paid in a way that encourages people to do them. But that’s not how ‘My Money’ thinking works, is it? The boss doesn’t reckon it’s worth paying for, so he’ll abuse those who have no other opportunity. Thus it is that immigrants get to scrub floors and change the linen in hotel bedrooms for a pittance.

Our Toilet Cleaner.

So here we have a young woman who cleans the toilets. Menial work at the best of times, but she does it willingly enough. After all, it’s a job, isn’t it? What struck me was when she said, “I do the best job that I can. Then I can be proud of my work.”

Imagine a Dutchman – or any bureaucrat, come to that – saying that they’re proud of the work they do? Remember the marketer I met on a train several years ago? He was so ashamed of what he did he cowered before me rather than answer. He was ashamed of being paid for something he knew had no meaning; worse, it cost the businesses he worked for huge sums of money. All of which went down the proverbial pan. Is it any wonder that he was ashamed, and recoiled as if I’d stripped him to his underwear in full view of the public? (1)

He only softened when I mentioned that I was in marketing too; but then, I knew what it was all about. I wasn’t ashamed of being paid to do something I knew would increase a company’s profits.

The problem for most workers in our world is that they don’t know why they do the things they are paid for. It’s not as if the boss is going to tell them, they’re just there to do a day’s work. Highly trained individuals put to boring, repetitive work that in five years’ time there will be a computer program to compete with. This is what happens when someone does as they’re told: they can only do as they’re told. The limitations of the boss are spread across his company because his rule is law.

The boss doesn’t know this any more than my marketer did. In that they both depend on each other for their work is a very real problem, because the boss doesn’t want to pay money that he knows brings nothing back. The workers have no choice but to work in the way they’re told and so cannot improve the situation – if, that is, they had a clue as to how to do this. Business schools the world round are skilled at de-skilling their pupils. It’s called “evidence-based decision making” and anything less useful to a business could not have been invented if they had tried. It’s why the proportion of MBAs in a business is inversely proportional to its ability to generate profits. Purchase money thinking destroys business.

‘Purchase Money’ Thinking Leads To Problems.

The boss wants more money and sees his workers as a poor investment – that in a nutshell is what Rudolf Steiner termed ‘Purchase Money’. For the boss, a computer is tangible, an object. It has physical worth – this is a man who cannot see the intelligence innate in a person, and thus cannot estimate it. Nor does he ever think to. That is the downside of not being able to reflect on one’s own activities. That a computer needs software is neither here nor there: that does the job he wants it to. As importantly, it doesn’t argue back. If it goes wrong, there’s a department to deal with that. The thinking is 100% watertight!

That is, everything’s okay just as long as somebody actually notices it going wrong… but that’s the problem computers bring with them. They can’t tell you when they’re doing something wrong: a computer can’t even think, leave alone reflect on its actions. A human can, but usually there are some serious barriers like the locked doors to the department that maintains the computers. Computer engineers are not the friendliest of people, and as a rule, lurk in their gloomy offices where they are safe from being disturbed. Even in an emergency.

But you’d not notice an emergency if the computer was in charge, it’d just carry on computing as normal whilst the flash crash on the stockmarket develops in the ensuing nano-seconds. Nobody looked, nobody wanted to be responsible for the job they did. Until the regulators hammered on their doors to wake the programmers out of their daze.

All of this points to a system where people have no responsibility for their work. Whatever the reason, and it boils down to their schooling training them to base their thoughts on evidence and not on their own observations. This is why Rudolf Steiner spoke of a decision being based on evidence as ‘immoral’. It’s because it leaves the person ill equipped for the demands our modern world places on us, the end effects of which were described in my post, ‘Trouble In The Toilet’. The problem is that when everybody makes their decisions based on evidence, that is to say, any kind of number, they’re not thinking for themselves. That means they’re unaware of why they chose that evidence in the first place… and it’s well known that you can use evidence to prove contradicting statements. Without self-reflection, that is to say, consciousness of one’s own place in the world, the tendency is to blame others for being wrong. All it really means is that both parties have unwittingly chosen evidence that puts them at odds: people who would otherwise be friends become enemies. That, perhaps is the central theme of the book I’m writing (1).

Doing Your Best.

So what’s all this about cleaning toilets, then? It was because she said the magical words: “I do the best job that I can. Then I can be proud of my work.”

Just one sentence, spoken as if everybody in the world thought this way. It’s this kind of thing that indicates to me that I am in the presence of somebody special. The signs are so clear that speaking face to face, I can determine this in the space of ninety seconds. (3)

How many bureaucrats sitting behind their desk, dreaming of their next coffee would say that? They’ve never been trained to, they’d never think to. There’s a bigger problem: they have no opportunity to. The craftsman has the opportunity, but not if his boss gets in the way; that I described in my post, ‘Live Wires’. Bosses rule, remember? And they rule because they know no better. They’ve never been trained to…

… oh, I’m repeating myself. Again.

Well, that’s what humanity has brought us to. Because we didn’t meet our challenges or grasp the opportunities we were given, we gave them to everybody else instead. And so the challenges escalate and people retreat from them…

Who Is This Toilet Cleaner?

So here we have a toilet cleaner who is doing the best she can. Nobody’s stopping her, nobody’s actually encouraging her. Well, that’s what life’s all about, isn’t it? Finding out what you want to do with your life. For this young woman, her future isn’t in cleaning toilets. Nor is it in her father’s restaurant, albeit that she’s well suited to dealing with the public.

Because she’s actually studying Law at one of the top universities in the Netherlands. Not the kind of thing that’s going to teach her how to deal with life, though. She has been lucky enough to have been brought up by a family who not only cared for her, they showed her what pride really means. And what it brings to the person who is happy to do a menial task.



(1) You can meet him here: “Why I Hate Marketers.

(2) My book isn’t at a stage where it can be published, yet.

(3) For more on this, see my post, “When My Heart Sings.



6 thoughts on “The Toilet Cleaner.

  1. Hmm interesting post.. and something I’ve thought about quite a bit. To me, it is what the system promotes- don’t believe anything, or even consider anything seriously until you can produce hard, concrete, certifiable evidence of it’s validity, firt of an idea.. and then of something more. This is such a crucial observation because, as you have said, it means none of us trust our SELVES, or our instincts anymore. Although it is also a by-product of the information age we live in.. we now have the ability to compare every thought we have with external info on the subject, or in the same area; like our own wonderings and podering have taken a backseat to the facts we can produce on the topic. It’s a good thing and a bad thing.. Really interesting post xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hasn’t the point always to be able not to compare what one thinks with what is written – but what is thought by others?

      Facts are a very real problem in our day and age: not the facts as such, but which facts a person chooses as being valid. And those they consider have no reason to be valid. A person’s choice of facts is a clear indication of their comfort zone; when a person can reason without facts, that is when they can step beyond their comfort zone. When required.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Facts – and the meaning of the term – is huge in the press right now, with America’s man/child in charge claiming his version of ‘reality’ as “alternative facts!” However, perceptions are not facts, they are actually opinions about what is touted as factual.

    History doesn’t always report accurately, and rarely completely, but the fact that it was reported AT ALL – especially when accompanied by photos – leaves only idiots claiming that the entire incidents are nothing more than fables. (Thinking of those who deny the existence of the Holocaust – but it could apply to vaccine or climate change research as easily).

    Unfortunately, even among scientists, metrics-based “facts” can mislead, and sometime actually lie – especially when they are converted to percentage points compared to other percentages. People can only report on what they look at! And there’s a lot to “see” beyond what can be quantified and counted in a peer reviewed, journal-published study (or a biz-school textbook)!!

    One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Anatole France –“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” Unfortunately, as you point out in your post, many more than 50 million people are saying (and doing) foolish things because they have never learned to THINK.

    Hopefully, your toilet cleaner will hold on to her experience and maintain her pride in a job well done, able to effect change once she graduates. Heaven knows the entire legal profession could use more people who step outside their rules and regs boxes to take an unvarnished look at the human beings who are affected by the laws they support.

    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie –
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning and thankyou for your comment.

      When you say, “perceptions are not facts” – you are right. It only becomes a fact when it’s been written down. The real issue here is that people’s perceptions are different – and thus their choice of what facts to write down are different. This goes for scientists just as it does for journalists who are given ‘facts’ by untrustworthy government officials. There are journalists in Anatole France’s fifty million 😉

      “And there’s a lot to “see” beyond what can be quantified and counted in a peer reviewed, journal-published study (or a biz-school textbook)!!” Take a wander around this blog, you’ll see something of this and descriptions of the underlying psychology, which I term ‘The Comfort Zone.’

      I assure you, when you meet a person like my young friend the toilet cleaner, you will have hope for the world. The first conversation we had was about her perception of the differing viewpoints of her university tutors. It only took another ten minutes to realize this was genuine, and remarkable. However, she is not the ordinary kind of lawyer who pores over the rules and regulations to find the gaps…

      to exploit them!

      Such lawyers are the highest paid in their industry, and with good reason, they make a lot of money for the people they work for.

      I doubt my friend will ever be rich in financial terms. In terms of life, she’s worth her weight in gold.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are most welcome – I dug a comment out of the spam-trash on my blog and responded to it as well, with my apologies.

        I’m at the very limits of time available for online activities, but I’m enjoying what I’ve had time to read on your blog so far.

        I think I’d dearly love your toilet cleaner – my kind of woman.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for retrieving it; WordPress has a dislike for me and is often playing tricks like spamming comments on Alex’s blog, too.

        If you know that she is the kind of person you’d love to meet, you’ll meet people like her. Believe me, you’ll meet them in the oddest of places… and I’d never expected to meet someone like that in an out of the way Chinese restaurant.

        But then, my ears are always pricked.

        Good night and sleep well. xx


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