Walking home from book club today I was all-a-twitter about the widely differing and intense reactions to this month’s book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. I was trying to sort out in my mind what triggered such a wide spectrum of emotions from this seemingly homogeneous group of women.
Then, as I turned the first corner I was completely side-tracked by a new apparition along my route: a mobil dog spa. Is this a joke? It looked like a miniature horse trailer with fancy marketing graphics on the side panels, that included a dog in a tub of suds. I could see the people working on the inside through the windows on the side panels. Presumably they were washing/grooming dogs in there. Amazing. Amazing that someone thought of this. Amazing that someone else would pay for this. I’m sure it’s not cheap. I’m wondering what is the next service that will be transported into the neighborhood to relieve us of tasks that we used to do for ourselves? I thought we already had every kind of cleaning and repair task outsourced, but apparently I had missed one.
There is a steady stream of services that walk, drive, trickle into the neighborhood every morning. Most of this was invisible to me before retirement. However, in the six blocks walk home mid-afternoon I noticed a pool maintenance guy stopped at one house, AT&T parked outside another, a nanny swinging a baby in the front yard, a van with a flashing light on the top marked “eco-services” parked at an older home (no clues as to what that was), a new house being framed up with several variations of workmen pickup trucks parked in the still-all-mud driveway, a custom fence building crew at another house, UPS and Fedex trucks passing by, a maid service branded VW and of course the ever-present US Postal Service truck. When I run on these same streets pre-dawn none of these vehicles or people are here.
This seems like a Downton Abbey world reformulated in the 21st century. I’ve been cramming through all the Downtown Abbey episodes this week, to get me caught up to the Season 3 that just started. Strict class divisions of that time are very much on my mind right now. It appears to me that in some ways the stratification of society hasn’t changed that much in concept, it’s just shifted its form.
Makes me wonder what injustices will be more readily visible and addressed, or judgements passed if there were to be a mini series of life in our neighborhood 100 years from now? Perhaps the yard crews that are still being paid the same rates as they were 25 years ago, or the house framers that work on Thanksgiving Day, or the maids who don’t get paid if their employer goes on vacation, or they are sick.
We rationalize all these things today. It’s a market economy. You get paid when you work, according to what the market will bear, according to the value of your service / product …. yes, yes, yes, got it. Again, I’m just wondering. How will history judge us?