You know as well as I do that it is not easy to get up and go to a job five days out of every week that goes by, and to do this week after week, month after month, year after year.
Now for an old guy like me, age 64, while approaching that precipice called "retirement" and considering how/when such an arrangement may take shape, it has been difficult lately.
I've been struggling with a few issues, both public and private, pertaining to this job that has occupied 40 hours of my time every week for the last six years.
The apartment complex in which I maintain all this stuff--toilets, faucets, sinks, drains, light fixtures, electrical outlets, water heaters, doors, windows, cabinets, floors, stairways, interiors, exteriors, dumpsters, trash, smoke-filled rooms. . .this apartment community is a public housing arrangement in which rents are subsidized, according to need and income, through funds that have been provided through taxpayer money.
I confess that one problem I have had lately comes from wondering why I have to do all this work, when many tenants don't seem to have much to occupy their time. I mean, everybody has a TV and that's okay.
I don't really want to elude my responsibilities as an employed person. But I do believe that if there is, among the hundred+ residents here, a good person who is willing to take on some responsibility to do some necessary work. . .that person should be allowed to contribute some of their time and effort toward making the community facilities cleaner and more operative.
But I cannot expect this type of help from tenants.
I am, you know, the employee, while they are the tenants. I am the worker; they are the recipients of my services.
And I have, during previous periods of my life, benefited from some college-level training in education. Accordingly, I would like to take opportunities now and then to teach others, especially children, to do for themselves instead of me the Maintenance guy doing all of it.
A year or two ago, a good thing happened in this complex where I work. A helpful tenant who lives here took it upon himself to help me in cleaning one of our two laundry rooms. I was pleased to have his participation, especially since I have a steady stream of vacancies to deal with--vacancies that require painting, cleaning and repairs. There should be more people in the world who are like this good citizen who has volunteered to help make the community in which he lives, in which I work, a better place.
Nevertheless, I was informed that it was not his place to do so. Because he is, after all, the tenant, while I am the employee.
In other instances during my six years, tenants have been compelled to uproot plants--decorative and vegetable-- that they had planted in the mulched sterile areas around the buildings. Because it was against the rules. Management is supposed to do all that, and make those decisions, etc. And this place is subsidized by the USDA. The A stands for Agriculture. Fed-approved agriculture of course, not tenant-planted agriculture.
I told a friend of mine recently that if I had a million bucks I'd buy the whole dam place and then let the tenants have their own community garden instead of these useless ornamental shrubs and mulch, and I'd turn my maintenance job over to a tenant committee where they could divvy out the work as it arises, and be compensated accordingly with rent credit or benefits or cash.
Well, my struggle with these issues was punctuated this Sunday morning with some other inputs about this type of situation.
I was listening in on Listening In, which is an online audio program that is provided weekly by World Magazine, of which I am a subscriber.
In this recorded discussion, I heard host Warren Smith interviewing guest Jennifer Marshall, who represents the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity of the Heritage Foundation. They were conducting a fresh discussion about a tired old topic, welfare reform.
Jennifer was explaining the outcome of a recent forum at Heritage, the purpose of which was to help people escape poverty.
She mentioned that the major welfare reform of 1996 had been successful in reducing welfare loads and reducing child poverty. But only one program was dealt with. She further stated what needs to happen is reform of--not just cash welfare program-- but food stamps, public housing and other programs. And then she made this statement:
"The incentives right now are structured toward dependence; let's get them structured toward moving people back to independence, back to flourishing in their communities."
And I thought, she may have a good point there. But I don't know what I could do about it.
Life goes on.
In other news, its a beautiful, sunny day here in the Blue Ridge.
Have a nice day, and a satisfyingly productive week.