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Since the subject came up…

Some of our Anti-Worker friends have tried to point out the error of our collective way and convince us that the Boss-Man is only looking out for our best interest, and we should feel privileged to work for less than it costs us to survive, and raise our families, and one day perhaps retire… in other words, the amount it takes US to produce our labor. Since we’d then have to find some other ways to survive in anything more than Abject Poverty, we would not only be working essentially for free, for the One Master, we would have to subsidize it with outside labor. In Short, WE would be paying for the privilege of working, for King Soopers or whoever else.

This reminded me of a story I once read, by a gentleman named Samuel Clemens.

About a youth named Thomas Sawyer.

Forthwith to the tale, then:

He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in
sight presently–the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been
dreading. Ben’s gait was the hop-skip-and-jump–proof enough that his
heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and
giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned
ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As
he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned
far over to starboard and rounded to ponderously and with laborious
pomp and circumstance–for he was personating the Big Missouri, and
considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and
captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself
standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:

“Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!” The headway ran almost out, and he
drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.

“Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!” His arms straightened and
stiffened down his sides.

“Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow!
Chow!” His right hand, meantime, describing stately circles–for it was
representing a forty-foot wheel.

“Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-lingling! Chow-ch-chow-chow!”
The left hand began to describe circles.

“Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard! Come ahead
on the stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow!
Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head-line! LIVELY now!
Come–out with your spring-line–what’re you about there! Take a turn
round that stump with the bight of it! Stand by that stage, now–let her
go! Done with the engines, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling! SH’T! S’H’T! SH’T!”
(trying the gauge-cocks).

Tom went on whitewashing–paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben
stared a moment and then said: “Hi-YI! YOU’RE up a stump, ain’t you!”

No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then
he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as
before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom’s mouth watered for the
apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

“Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?”

Tom wheeled suddenly and said:

“Why, it’s you, Ben! I warn’t noticing.”

“Say–I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of
course you’d druther WORK–wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

“What do you call work?”

“Why, ain’t THAT work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom
Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you LIKE it?”

The brush continued to move.

“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get
a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom
swept his brush daintily back and forth–stepped back to note the
effect–added a touch here and there–criticised the effect again–Ben
watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more
absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let ME whitewash a little.”

Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

“No–no–I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s
awful particular about this fence–right here on the street, you know
–but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and SHE wouldn’t. Yes,
she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very
careful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two
thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”

“No–is that so? Oh come, now–lemme just try. Only just a little–I’d
let YOU, if you was me, Tom.”

“Ben, I’d like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly–well, Jim wanted to
do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t
let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m fixed? If you was to tackle this
fence and anything was to happen to it–”

“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say–I’ll give
you the core of my apple.”

“Well, here–No, Ben, now don’t. I’m afeard–”

“I’ll give you ALL of it!”

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his
heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in
the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by,
dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more
innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every
little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time
Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for
a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in
for a dead rat and a string to swing it with–and so on, and so on,
hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being
a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling
in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles,
part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a
spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk,
a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six
fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass doorknob, a
dog-collar–but no dog–the handle of a knife, four pieces of
orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while–plenty of company
–and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out
of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He
had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it–namely,
that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only
necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great
and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have
comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do,
and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And
this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers
or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or
climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in
England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles
on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them
considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service,
that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

The boy mused awhile over the substantial change which had taken place
in his worldly circumstances…

Perhaps the latest Gentleman who offered us much the same deal, or to be arrested(!) at public expense, which no doubt he, being a “libertarian” would object to King Soopers or Safeway having to pay taxes to subsidize…

Perhaps this latest Young Gentleman would go unto the Owners of King Soopers and Safeway and offer them money to Tongue Wash their Boots for them.

Rather than do it for free as he does now.

Brother Jonah
Recovering Texan. Christian while and at the same time Anarchist. (like Tolstoy only without the beard, for now) Constantly on the lookout for things which have relevance to things I already know. Autistic. Proud to be Ex- air force. Out of the killing machine for 27 years 4 months and 5 days woohoo! So like where is the link to update my picture?
http://brotherjonah.biz

3 thoughts on “Since the subject came up…

  1. By the way, the Colorado Springs PD are probably more than happy to accommodate your request to arrest us for the crime of negotiating a fair wage for our labor.

    However, they don’t work for free either. And since we’ll be in jail under your generous offer, and God-Damned if we’ll be working to pay for that privilege, perhaps you would care to foot the bill yourself?

    I don’t think a Tongue-Wash of their boots would suffice, they’ll need cash.
    (although, from our experiences with their kindness and hospitality and tolerance, I’d suspect the Tongue-Wash would be considered a welcome bonus for them… if you pay them enough for the privilege.)

  2. I always enjoy reading your comments brother jonah, and I wouldn’t put it past them to do that. King Soopers and safeway want to be like McDonalds and Walmart, they think they have our best interests at heart, but of course they are really thinking of themselves. We lost alot in 2004 which we are trying to get back. I was hired after the current contract was ratified, because of that I had to wait 3 years before I could provide healthcare for my daughters, I work for King Soopers and I will be the first to tell you they’re awful, we are constantly walking on eggshells, if we forget to ask customers if they want to apply for the 123 rewards mastercard when the computer prompts us to we could get disciplined, they want us to work faster, and on top of that they keep only allowing us to work 20 hours per week. Brother Jonah if you are reading this, I ask you to email russ.dispense@kingsoopers.com and email steve.dicroce@kingsoopers.com tell them that what they’re doing to us is wrong. The McDonalds mentality must leave King Soopers.

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