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.”