Well, that was a new one on me yesterday as I drove into St. John's with the CBC Q programme playing. Funny how we can accept things without thinking. We have a vague feeling something is wrong but it takes a guy like Craig Lambert, Harvard magazine editor to highlight it - riffing off on how we, the customer stooges, have taken on unpaid work since self serve gas pumps came into being. Shadow work he called it.
Even the term self service has been coined to evade the more realistic terminology:
Self service = no service.
Think about it: we are now our own bank tellers, gas pump attendants, checkout cashiers at the automated checkouts and our own travel agents.
Unpaid work. A sneakily implemented transference of labour from paid to unpaid.
He went on to talk about the number of hours we give away in deleting the spam in our inboxes every day. Not the sale pitch spam but the outright fraudulent ones from sorrowful widows in Africa offering us 2 million to use our faxes and bank accounts. Even two minutes a day would add up to 9 hours over a year and would be incalculable over a lifetime.
My daughter brought up a good point in talking with her about this on the phone today. The countless hours we spend searching for products which we are willing to buy with our hard earned cash in big box stores. I admit to wearying of this from time to time and spending more money in small shops (now few and far between) to receive personal service.
And hunting for pricing on something. Can I find an assistant? Or reach nine foot high shelves with ne'er a clerk in sight. I admit to taking a tongs off a shelf one time, unwrapping it, and reaching high for a casserole dish, in absolute frustration and with a dinner party that night staring me in the face.
Meanwhile, most days we smell of gasoline after filling up somewhere, get frustrated at the out of service ATMs when we can't access our VERY OWN money from our VERY OWN bank accounts, and humbly lug our huge (often wobbly) shopping carts across the tarmac, offload them and THEN willingly take them back to the herding area. I remember bag boys who did all of this.
To add up all of this labour would frighten us, I'm sure.
And we know who's laughing all the way to the