Monday, December 03, 2007

Labor Intensive jobs

This is what I'm working on -- using the inch and a half squares given to me at the last Empire Quilters meeting -- the center of the bigger squares, obviously. This particular very simple design, as I've been sewing on it for about three weeks now, has given rise to a couple -- I guess it's not too grand to say -- insights. Even looking at a picture of the work very much in process -- the squares are being sewn in rows, the rows haven't been sewn together yet. Then, of course when they are it will need a border and a backing and then to be quilted -- lots of work ahead. Any one can see that it's a very simple design -- just a square bordered so that there is another square and then a third. The two inside colors and fabric vary, either the light pink with a pale design or the dark purple -- simply, light or dark, likewise the inner squares. Very, very simple.
And the "insight" for me is that either I am extremely conservative -- which I don't believe I am -- or my taste is for the elegance that is found in simplicity. I prefer to believe it's the latter. I find this an extremely satisfying design and when it comes to quilting, I will not add a complex quilting design. I am thinking of a border that is a little different, yet what's in my mind, simple though it is, may be wrong. But I have at least a couple of weeks to keep thinking about it before I am ready to start sewing it.

The second insight is about that refrain I write so often, that quilting is very labor intensive. This is. But that's all right. Today my reverie took me to the first real job I ever had. Between sophomore and junior year in high school I went to Indianapolis for six weeks with a school friend. We stayed with her older sister who was working in Indianapolis and had an apartment. I remember absolutely nothing about the living arrangements but I remember that temp job I got shortly after I had turned 16 and could work. It was a minimum wage job, of course, at an insurance agency. They had decided that their index system of customers should be changed from policy number to alphabetic. All their customer information was on index cards in many, many file trays. Yes! That's right. My job was to refile all those cards.

I spent six weeks doing it, working eight hour days and probably earning [I don't honestly remember] about $3.00 an hour, if that. And guess what? I was not bored. Or maybe I was bored, but I was also proud to be able to do this job. I didn't whine and moan or hate the job. I have always had a sense of accomplishment after doing a big labor intensive job -- though I do hate dusting all the furniture in the house and generally spread the job over two days. As I think about that filing job, way back in the dark, dark non-technological age I also think that today to make such a shift any big company's clerk would simply enter one command into a computer and the entire job would be accomplished almost immediately. Zap!

Well, I don't want a computer to make a quilt for me. I like saying to myself, today I will sew two more rows of the quilt -- and watch it grow. When it is done, I will have a sense of satisfaction ... and I will have another cover to keep me warm [redundant though that is] in colors and a design that gives me much pleasure. I have little patience with people who dislike their labor intensive jobs -- unless they are being exploited as in sweat shops. When one undertakes a commitment, being bored may be a price, but total discontent is within you. You can take pride in a job well done or you can be a spoiled brat who doesn't understand the working for a wage is a bargain you've made and something to complete with pride.

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