Surplus Labor Incarnate June 11, 2015Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
Working from home: you have to get up early to check the Internet and VPN, allowing time to shower (optional) and dress (optional) should you have to flee to the coffee house to get connected. Once you are logged in you have to check your calendar. Someone may have cancelled an early meeting. Or, worse, someone also on night meetings may have pushed out an earlyish meeting, and your are a time zone behind. .So now you are in Outlook. All of the testers whose work you are validating are in China or Poland. It is already 8:30 pm in Singapore, and 2:30 pm in Poland. You know this because you have a screen on your tablet filled with world clock widgets: New Orleans, New York, Singapore (most of the overseas team are in Singapore, but that tiny nation is on China Standard Time), India. And Venice (which is in the same time zone as Poland, but one can dream). Once you are into email they have got you by the lobes, and you haven’t yet brushed your teeth or made your morning gruel of yogurt and Grape-Nuts. You are getting fat, tied down from early morning until late at night into a four-by-four space between the desk and the easy chair in the living room, stressed, taking medications for stress that make you blow up as if you had swallowed the business end of a gas station air line, and you feed in quarters like you feed yourself hypomaniacal snacks. The blue tooth headset hangs from the architects lamp. Both computers are fired up and ready for the day. There is no escape. You got a panicked text message from a new contracted co-worker about her computer. It seems the person she replaced was released because he was too often off-line, but you are convinced the client’s rickety Citrix environment runs on a cluster of scavenged desktops from the late Nineties,and their version of IBM Rational Quality Center–where you spend much of your day–has taken to throwing over license messages when you log on, is hopelessly oversubscribed and overloaded. You are an involuntary contractor–discarded by your last real employer a few days before you received your five year pin, because you refused a compulsory relocation. But the message is clear. You do not have the freedom to set you own hours as long as the work is done. if Moloch’s systems don’t work, don’t complain. Just put in more hours to compensate. You are paid a salary and not by the hour, and the hours are long. You are surplus labor incarnate, and you doubt your employers know the difference between a Marxist and a Marxian. You do what you are told.
This is Freedom.
This is the Invisible Hand.
This is America.
This is Fucking Insane.
“A pig. In a cage. On antibiotics.”
— Radiohead, “Fitter, Happier“