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Christopher Steenkamp
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Domestically Disturbed

14 April 2013, 10:49

The recent strike staged by domestic workers in Jozi spiked a little interest in me. So many families have domestic workers, or household executives (as favoured by a dear friend of mine). I thought about all the people who have nannies and domestics and PA’s for their homes. Then I thought about those privileged enough to be beyond financially secure, but still refuse to pay their domestic workers properly. Then I got angry.

The average suburban drone kicks about the marketplace, shuffling bits of money towards themselves for about forty years. On retirement things change, the cog slows and time is spent with the family and working in the garden. A strange thing, that the worst paid amongst us are doing what most of us aspire to do in retirement. Working in the garden and spending time with loved ones. Except, retirement can be too late, children have grown up and become busy themselves and gardening is terribly difficult with a 70 year old back grown accustomed to pleather office chairs and air conditioning.

I think of my childhood nanny, her kind eyes and patience, and realise that much of my interaction with adulthood in my home was with her. What an incredibly important job, orientating a new human to the world. If you ask many people they’d tell you this is why they work, the driving force behind the daily grind, providing for their families is the primal urge that presses them on. This is noble, not a path I’ve chosen, a child free existence is one of my greatest achievements to date, but I certainly understand bits of that world.

The bit I don’t understand is going through all the trouble of busted balls at work, buying and securing a property, all the child related effort and expenditure, only to skimp on what I consider a penultimate facet to junior’s progression. Surely quality adult interaction matters more than hand washed carrots or private tuition. Why go through all the trouble of revolving your life around a little human and then underpaying someone to teach it about the world. Unless raising a pissed off Marxist is your goal, then by all means, keep spending parking money on that enterprise.

Yes I understand that times are tough and money can be scarce, but abortion is legal and family planning free. Enslaving another human at a pittance to care for the most valuable asset seems beyond stupid. How is anyone meant to take pride in such an enterprise? Cough up douchebags.

This isn’t the case all round of course, I have many dear friends footing school bills and medical aid, coughing hard and deep, ensuring the families of the people who look after theirs, also gets a piece of the sun, but it seems like it isn’t the norm. It seems like we have a problem.

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