The Globe is so ... Perfect, Don't You Find? 

The Globe is so ... Perfect, Don't You Find?

A kind of nice set of articles in today's Globe and Mail. $.

Jan Wong, still working undercover as a maid, reports that she makes less than minimum wage for a 12-hour day, once you factor in travel time. The clients are pigs, and some of them lie to try to cheat the agency. Her best line:

"Maid service, sold by the hour, is now accessible to the vast middle class. The employees work below the radar, without breaks or benefits, for long hours and low pay. Without angst, fanfare or celebrity sing-a-thons, the homes and hearths of ordinary Canadians have become the factory floors of the invisible working poor."

I especially like the part about no "celebrity sing-a-thons"; yes, we all care about suffering people--somewhere else. (Her piece is called "Modern Times"--hmmm, both Chaplin and probably Dickens? Clever).

Margaret Wente, to paraphrase unfairly, notes that it is funny and sort of, I don't know, divine, to see middle-class people "outsourcing" their more tedious chores.

These days, nobody I know bathes her own dog. It's too messy and they're too busy. Besides, there is a vast service industry of experts, many with certificates, who can do it more expertly than you can and for a reasonable fee. It is no longer necessary for you to cook or clean or sew on missing buttons for yourself. You can hire other people to cut your grass, shovel your snow, unplug your toilets and clean the guck out from your eavestroughs. Why bother to design your own garden, plant your own tulips, or install an entire seasonally themed outdoor display four times a year when there are people who can do it for you?

Wente keeps saying these services are provided for "a reasonable charge"; er, does that mean below minimum wage again? At least for the sub-assistant dog groomer who actually gets wet?

Finally, Karen von Hahn complains that people who work in service industries now "whine" at their clients, and without being asked, bring up personal details about themselves, which is clearly rude and even contrary to the notion of "customer service."

Half-jokingly (I would hope), she blames bloggers:

I personally lay the blame for this confusion of public manners and the corresponding rise of whine culture on the blog phenomenon. Without the insistent narcissism of everybody's petty gripes floating about in cyberspace, would everyone feel so entitled to share? In my view, blogging's bad air has trampled that essential trust of civil interaction -- not to dump on others with our own trash -- and turned us all into whine experts, including me, of course, with this column.

There is a bit of this in Ann Althouse (whom I no longer read): why are people on the Internet so mean? (Althouse fits a stereotype of the beautiful woman--say, in Kingsley Amis, remarkably well. How dare people question me, or try to remind me of things like logic and fairness. I'm beautiful, and they're not! See Altmouse). It seems strange, however, to suggest that the Internet is making us ruder when we are off-line, talking to people. Internet communications are different, and sometimes ruder than "real world" communications. I think people can keep that straight--and complaints about the rise of rudeness long pre-date the Internet. With Wong's piece in mind, it's hard not to hear the overtone: these low-paid people should shut up, and know their place.

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