Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Are All Jobs Worth Doing Well?

Yesterday we made several kinds of sweet dough, because we're making petits fours for the next two weeks. Today we made pate a choux again (we made it yesterday to practice our piping), out of which we made an assortment of eclair- and cream-puff-type objects (being French means there's a word for every little shape), which we'll fill tomorrow with the various pastry creams we also made today. We also made dacquoise bases (a meriingue-nut mixture) and dacquoise cream (pastry cream with nuts and a little port wine, and, of course, butter and sugar), and assembled them into little teeny sandwich-shaped things. In addition, I did, in fact, make a recipe of puff pastry this weekend, and yesterday I baked ten of them--five blueberry and five apricot--and brought them in for the chef to critique. He complimented me on them! So that rocked. They did look nice, though they weren't all the same size (he totally didn't believe that I had used the same size cutter for each one, but I did; I think the dough wasn't the same degree of coldness while I was rolling, and that would make a big difference). And the fillings WERE good: for the blueberry one, I cooked down the blueberries for awhile with butter, sugar, and some cornstarch (yes, I know, I should have weighed it all, rather than merely using "some"), and when they refused to truly thicken I just dumped them in a strainer and let the liquid part run off (and kept that, because I suspect it'd be yummy over pancakes or mixed with some confectioner's sugar for an icing). The apricots I chopped up and mixed with some butter, honey, ginger, and cinnamon, cooked them for awhile, and then threw them in the food processor. It was so exciting to see them puff the way they're supposed to!

But I keep thinking about Ann's question of a couple of weeks ago: are all jobs worth doing well? I think that, in principle, any job should be worth doing well: if you're going to bother doing it, then do it right. That's what my parents (especially my dad) taught me, and I've absorbed it into my skin. I've also been lucky: although I've had a number of shit jobs over the years, I've always believed that they were temporary. I never thought I'd be literally or figuratively shoveling shit for a living forever. I've also worked under relatively good conditions: even my stints in fast-food places were brief or, more likely, with people I liked and under people I respected. Finally, I've never really been exploited, which is subtly different (or perhaps not?) from the last thing. And those three conditions matter.

That is: if all you can look forward to getting is shit work, if the working conditions are unpleasant, and/or if you're being exploited in any of a variety of ways, then I can understand being less than enthusiastic about the work as a political position, sort of. (What are some working definitions of exploited? When workers are poorly compensated and/or when the owners make many hundreds of times the wages of the average employee--WalMart is a perfect example here, as is much fruit- and vegetable-harvesting. When the conditions are dangerous (because the company cuts back on safety measures to cut costs, not necessarily because the work is inherently dangerous) and the labor market is tight, so people cannot afford to lose jobs, even when the jobs may cost a limb or a life--mass-produced meat jobs are good examples of this. I regard a poor educational system in combination with Taylorized jobs, e.g., dumbed-down fast food jobs as a complicated exploitation system, albeit one that isn't being produced consciously. Though some have argued that the rich right wing is trying to do exactly that, and there is evidence that for more than a century manufacturers have wanted more docile and more dumb workers.)

But in a (admittedly fantasized) society where all the members recognize the value of any job and recognize that all of us should share in the most unpleasant tasks (or pay dearly to have them performed by others), then, yes, any job is worth doing well.

1 Comments:

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6:20 PM  

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