[ExI] No Machine Can Do My Job As Resentfully As I Can
emlynoregan at gmail.com
Tue Jun 23 01:01:33 UTC 2009
More art from The Onion:
"In today's increasingly mechanized world, where the bottom line so
often takes precedence over human considerations, the working man
never knows how long it will be before he is replaced by a machine.
It's no secret that some in management at Gillian's Fish Products,
where I work, feel that automation would improve productivity and
quality control. But what they don't understand is that they will lose
something far more valuable if employees are let go: the resentful
No mere machine can replace the embittered alienation of the
flesh-and-blood worker. Sure, machines may be able to gut whitefish in
the blink of an eye. But would they be able, as I am, to despise and
bemoan their miserable lot? To seethe with the unbearable knowledge
that this will be their sole livelihood until the day they die? To
identify with the glassy, sightless eye of every fish as their sharp
blades spill the innards out?
Whether it's scaling each cod and struggling to suppress the repulsion
and loathing within, or de-boning each haddock while fighting the
impulse to drop the knife and walk out of the factory as far as your
legs can take you, such sentiments could never be reproduced in
mechanical form. Those special qualities can only come from one
source: exhausted men and women forced to feed and clothe their
children on a pauper's wages.
Replacing us with machines will increase profits, but can a dollar
value be placed on the labors of someone who drinks before his morning
shift just to get through the day? And when the machines are sitting
in six-inch-deep gore at day's end, will they go home and take out
their frustrations on family members and loved ones? I think not.
A machine can only contain wires, diodes, and gears, not the living,
breathing sum of life's screw-ups, heartbreaks, and regrets.
You can install machines, but you can't install the permanent smell of
fish in your nostrils, or hands that have been roughened, swollen, and
discolored from years of fish dismemberment. You can build a machine
to replicate the same repetitive motions we perform five backbreaking
days a week, but all the engineers in the world cannot build a machine
that will repeatedly bang its head on a locker, silent tears streaming
down its metal cheeks, as it contemplates its wasted life.
Can a machine fume about years without a decent vacation, or having to
pay exorbitant rent in a company-owned tenement near the factory?
This, surely, only a man can do—a deeply self-hating man who loathes
every second of his working life.
A machine can break down mechanically, but can it break down
emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?
I can, and I have. Every day, a little piece of me dies. Could a
machine say the same?
I've worked at this unventilated shit-prison 12 hours a day for nearly
25 years. I have developed no skills other than that of silently
counting down the minutes of each workday while cursing my misfortune.
No matter what else they take from me, my utter and total hatred of
this nightmarish fish-stick factory will always be mine. After all,
isn't that what makes us truly human?"
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