Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Somebody still has to wash the dishes

I told Mark all about my feelings of meaninglessness (see previous post). He mentioned listening to NPR's report about the Canadian military's efforts to rebuild an orphanage. I thought he was just talking about NPR because that's what he likes to do. Then he said, "You know, even after they rebuild the orphanage, someone is still going to have to wash the dishes."
I didn't get it at first.
What I think he meant was this: Months from now, when we don't hear about rebuilding efforts in Haiti in the news anymore, there will be lots of kids living there. And they will need to eat. And someone will have to clean up after them.
There won't be any news reports about them. So is their job any less important?
Of course not. Without someone to feed them, the kids would starve, and what use would the rebuilt orphanage be to them then? They still need nutritious food on clean plates. They still need clean clothes.
We don't hear about them. We probably never will.
We don't hear about the millions of people who wash dishes, clean laundry, and wipe up poop in day care centers, nursing homes, and hospitals, every day, for minimum wage. We don't pay them much, and we don't give them any attention. Just the opposite, in fact. We look down on them, because, after all, how much skill could it take to run a dishwasher or a laundry machine? Dead-end jobs, we think to ourselves. Boring, repetitive, mindless, dead-end jobs.
Those so-called dead-end jobs keep people alive. Nobody sees them doing those ugly jobs, though. I mean, the laundry facilities aren't on display in the hospital lobbies or behind the orphanage's front desk.
And nobody sees me doing what I do. It seems simple enough. Millions of mothers, cooks, janitors, etc. do it every day, so it can't be that hard, right? I'm only keeping people alive, after all. I'm never going to be on the news. Can't you just see it? Mother cooks dinner for her family. See it here at ten.
So it's repetitive, boring, and thankless. So my kids aren't orphans in Haiti.
But I'm keeping them alive. 'Cause someone's gotta do the dishes.
Thanks, honey.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Oh Kaylie I love this post--I love how it helped me put things into perspective a little better. So thanks!