(Circa 1990) SENSE AND NONSENSE
I work as a home support worker which means I do a lot of cooking and cleaning, something like what I hate to do most in my own home–housework. But in a client’s home it takes on new meaning and importance (Over and above the fact that I get paid). When I first started, the job description was called “homemaker”. But somewhere along the line that became politically incorrect.
It’s funny how perception and attitudes are influenced by words? It seems these words change their meaning as time goes by. Take the word “housewife” for example: Yucky. We assume the poor woman is stuck in a one-sided relationship with a big dumb husband who doesn’t appreciate her. If they have children, she is a mother which is not necessarily a good word anymore either.
We need to invent new words to perk up old jobs and responsibilities. Mothers could call themselves Child Care Givers. (An actual job position that you get paid for whenthey’re not your kids.)
Now what about men? They are also judged by the labels for what they do, or don’t do. Someone told us the story of the two little boys discussing their fathers’ occupations, back when Endako Mines was the largest employer in the Fraser Lake area. One child gushed about how his dad operated a big piece of equipment at the mine. Finally, he asked his companion what his dad did. The lad looked at his feet in embarrassment and blurted out, “My dad’s just a logger…”
I don’t know what the status of loggers is nowadays, but the fact that they are working at all should give them some points.
What about the poor sucker who doesn’t have a job? In our society he’s about equal to the untouchables in India. If he is on Employment Insurance, he’s considered to be looking for work. And if he works in the bush, that’s definitely “okay” because he’ll be back hocking his power saw or driving his feller buncher after break-up. But in some circles those who are on Employment Insurance are viewed as “digging from the public trough”. (Recipients skulk down alleys or cut across streets to avoid more privileged folk.)
When the Employment Insurance stamps run out (or whatever they call it nowadays when your assets become 100% less than your liabilities) the recipient is forced to go on Social Assistance. Then he is really in trouble—both socially and financially. The rest of us are allowed to kick sand in his face (so to speak). If he once skulked down alleys while he was on E.I. he now crawls on hands and knees clutching his Social Assistance cheque!
It is time to call this human condition whereby a man (or woman if she is the principal wage earner in the family) has reached rock bottom financially, by a new label. We already have something called G.A.I.N., which is short for Guaranteed Annual…(something or other?). Why not refer to Social Assistance cheques as D.A.R.N. I.T. (Short for: Did all right. Now in trouble.)
Perhaps that’s the sort of label needed to identify those of us who are down on their luck.