11 April 2011
A depressing change has occurred at the huge office building that houses our company's warehouse. Where used to be two immense old-fashioned hand-packed espresso machines now sits a sad little automated push-button machine that dispenses truly execrable highway-rest-stop café.
What disturbs me about the change, however, is not that I can no longer enjoy acceptable espresso at subsidized prices (0,60€!) when I make my infrequent visits to the warehouse. (Honestly it was never very good, even at the best of times.) It's that on the basis of many previous conversations with the genial old ladies who work there, I'm aware that the horrible new machine was probably installed because years of packing real espresso had caused wrist problems for said genial old ladies.
Obviously I wish these ladies nothing but the best wrist health. But it seems fundamentally misguided, that instead of finding new jobs for employees whose age or frailty prevents them from performing their jobs, the accepted solution is to leave them where they are but make their jobs easier, even if doing so means inflicting a sickening fake soul-draining product on the thousand or so people who work in the building.
There's something very ominous and Orwellian about it all. I can't help feeling this change in espresso machines at a warehouse on the outskirts of Paris in 2011 is somehow representative of the greater societal shift we face this century, as the necessity of caring for previous generations diminishes the expectations of current and forthcoming ones.