Saturday, October 16, 2010

Social Service Society

From the back of my ojek on the way to work I gape at Kramat Jati Pasar.  It's a traditional market with tables of fresh fish and dead raw chickens lying about. There are shellfish and hunks of red meat, a few veggie vendors and back, away from the road some folks who have permanent shops that sell lots of stuff. By 06:30 they are already closing up, it starts that early to avoid the sun and heat. Every morning I also see the daily (not weekly) trash collection. Most of the trash is organic-corn husks, cucumbers, fish heads, with plastic mixed in. It's not with two guys and a mechanized truck like near my home in the States. This is one or two guys with a wood and metal two-wheeled car, about 3 feet wide by 5 feet long and 3 feet high.  They use two pieces of wood to scoop up the trash which was swept into a pile, and move it to the cart.  The carts are then pushed/pulled to a much bigger truck where the trash is moved again, by hand. Alternately, they can use a round cane basket that is usually carried on the back. Those are also taken to the big truck and emptied. The smell is awful, the work is disgusting and never ending. It's very labor intensive.
Courtesy of This look exactly like many of the men I mentioned.  There are often not the bags you see, just a heap of trash.

I've spent time wondering why they don't mechanize the way we (the US) has, aside from the obvious cost. I've come to realize that it's the same reason as for other professions; for the garbage men, the maids, the doorman, the store attendants, the offices that have secretaries, copiers and janitors all in to service an office of 5. Jakarta has a population roughly estimated between 13 and 21 million. If Jakarta were to employ people in a more efficient way and obtain more machines to help with the work, half the city would be unemployed. It took me months to get used to having a maid at the EF house in Pluit.  Since I was old enough, my parents stressed the need to clean up after myself.  After many years and thousands of repetitions to "put that away" or "take that to the kitchen", it did finally sink in mom.  It made walking away from my two dirty dishes in the sink feel awkward.

I supposed the rationale I tell myself, as others probably do too, is that it provides a better life than they'd have otherwise. Many of the nanny's are young females with probably little or no education or other training. They often live with the family.  The garbage collectors have a consistent job with consistent pay, more than say a fishmonger might be able to boast. The maids are often girls/women from the countryside who send some of the money home to family.  In a societal structure such as Jakarta's, it seems all the 'help' might be in need of some.

No comments:

Post a Comment