Monday, February 27, 2012

The levers of no power

There are skills which have a rather limited number of applications. While sometimes brutally useful within these contexts, under any other circumstances the usefulness is zero. Literally zero. You don't even get the side benefit of having learnt things on the job - you just know this one thing, end of story.

The prime example of this is the skill of pulling a lever at just about the same rhytm for a solid eight hour work day. At the assembly line, this becomes a profitable skill to master - anywhere else, not so much.

Make no mistake - many a town has been built around the mastery of lever pulling. Limited as it might be, it's still brutally useful within the contexts that make them useful.

A side benefit of being able to ride a bike is the ability to go and explore places. Like, for instance, the still inhabited ruins of factory towns, where production ceased long ago but the inhabitants remained, living among the (sometimes very literal) ruins of a time long past.

Sometimes they don't even bother to replace the locks on the even older doors. And there's usually no lack of evidence of others who have paid a prior visit.

There is no lack of old, abandoned factories around this place where I live. And, moreover, there is no lack of lever pullers, who for one reason or another, overspecialized in the art of pulling to the point where all skill points were spent. Which might or might not be a problem - if I ever need a lever pulled, I know exactly where to go.

A bigger problem is that their kids go to the same schools as they did. Sometimes literally the very same school building (these are small places, after all), but more often than not in the very same type of school. The school until you work, where the prime objective is to produce workers with the skill set needed to work the job, pull the lever. Sometimes in the very same factory the parents worked in.

The sad part is that these young soon to be unemployed don't need me to tell them that the levers are broken beyond repair, and that the context where their hard earned skills were valued is even more broken beyond repair.

They know.

They, after all, live most of their lives taken out of context. Where the streets once had names.

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