Leaky Roof and Some Thoughts about the Working World – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Leaky Roof and Some Thoughts about the Working World

On thursday, after a morning of hard rain, the roof suddenly started leaking at about 1 o’clock whilst my mentor, Emile, was out for a lunch meeting. How exciting… you shoulda been, guys… you shoulda been!

Coworkers started making methodically making rounds making sure everyone had buckets for catching and plastic bags for covering electronics; this has happened before. I had to rig some buckets atop cubicle walls, and upon gazing at the horizon of the office canopy of the warehouse complex, there was visible a sea of buckets, permanently fixed at their watchtower stations waiting to catch escaping roof water.

At first, when I felt water hitting me, I wanted to text Emile an’ be like:

“Yo, there’s water coming from the motherf***ing ceiling… is there something you want to tell me about this place I’m working at??”

I bit my tongue, though… of thumbs… naw, I’m done with that idiom… that’s just weird.

But I had all of my questions answered when the bucket dudes made their rounds, and after I rigged buckets and such, I used old posters to make a shield over the absent Emile’s desk to protect it from the wrath of the Norse Gods. The master was quite pleased.

Other than that, now that were at the midpoint of this internship, my first true lick at the working world, I can see why it’s hard for many Americans to organize in their communities, whether it’s informalities with neighbors or more formal, organized types of political action like widespread demonstrations for healthcare or immigration reform, etc. I’m not saying that people don’t do this as it is, but sociologist have known for a long time that the caliber of civic engagement America is famous for is waning, and has been pretty much since the 60’s. Formal and informal social capital are vital things in a Democracy, and after a day of work, I usually just feel like eating dinner, taking care of some personal stuff, and falling asleep, exhausted. 

I’m not complaining about the caliber of the work… I can absolutely do it. I’m simply posing a rhetorical question:

How do citizens of a participatory democracy keep strong ties with their communities, volunteer actively, organize to peaceably defend their rights, or any other manner of responsible yet time consuming activities, when work hours continue to increase, the income gap widens, basic public social services become privatized, and the gloom of unemployment and future uncertanties constantly loom?

I may not have many of these worries yet, but millions do. You couldn’t count to a million in your lifetime.

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