Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss
Eli Goldstone

Apparently this is how the low-skilled live nowadays. A housemate worked briefly packing groceries for Amazon Fresh. They have a quota to meet. Fall behind and an actual human boss fires you as impersonally as a machine would do. The packing facility is chilled to just above freezing, so you work in a coat or jacket. A handheld computer tells you the location of each next item to pick, which isn’t in any obvious order. You are basically a human pick & place robot, because we can’t make robots flexible enough yet.

The same housemate had another job unloading trucks in a warehouse. No handheld computer, but otherwise similar. It’s a temp job, but the term of the job is “most days, but ‘whenever we need you’, as long as you keep showing up and never fall behind.” Fall behind, or miss a day of work, and you simply don’t get called back to the next day’s work. Apps didn’t create this kind of work, they just put a shiny new face on it for the millennials, an advertising pitch for 21st century piecework.

There is no honor in doing these jobs, and no stigma attached to being fired from one. Workers don’t show up, because they’re hung over, because they partied all night, because they just need a day off. The world is so full of shitty, dead-end jobs that they can always find another one.

I may be delusional, but wasn’t there a time in the past when bosses were reluctant to fire employees, because they knew the employees needed to eat? Wasn’t there a time when bosses would work with an employee, helping them to understand the boss’s expectations, cutting them some slack when they had an occasional bad day?

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