Throughout history sociologists have tried to find barometers, tell-tale signs for how a society is doing; signs to gauge if a society is thriving or in decline, fair or corrupt, free or oppressive. Some look at economic indicators. Others say look no further than how a society treats its women.
I say the above metrics will surely give tremendous insight but I would like to throw my indicator into the judging ring. I think a society is in big trouble when full-fledged adults have no choice but to do jobs previously reserved for teens and seniors. When your ex-boss is delivering newspapers, it probably means times are hard on the boulevard. Some 45 year old, ex middle management guy giving out smiley stickers at wal-mart, time to brush up on “Living off the Land” 101.
So I’m walking with my mom on Steinway street in Queens. (Big up to Astoria, my second favorite place in nyc after the entire borough of Brooklyn) and we spied a woman dancing. She was cutting the cement in front of a cell phone store. My mom told me she’s there all the time, a local favorite.
We chatted her up and it turns out she’s on contract to dance in front of the Metro PCS store. I think she used the term “contract” extremely loosely. Attention Metro PCS: Everyone in cities with Metro PCS knows about you! And people who don’t mind spotty coverage for $50 less a month than the big boys (myself included.) will surely get with you whether there’s a dancing lady out front or not.
You know they pay her a mere pittance to dance like Queens is not watching. A job that could be done by a teen or one of those air tube doll thingies that wiggles around when there’s a slight wind. So, the economics are off balance and now grown-ups are forced to do jobs that inanimate objects could do. Probably for the same money the inanimate object would make.
The Astoria dancing queen seemed quite happy with her work and her enthusiasm was definitely infectious. All that notwithstanding though where do we go from here?