2 Neurones & 1 Camera

Olivier Thereaux

Zeal and the useless job

My only problem is that I don’t need their plastic bags. In the past years I’ve trained myself to always go groceries-shopping with a couple of large cotton bags, thus trying not to waste plastic just to carry carrots and crumpets for a few blocks. My cash-register experience generally consists of an awkward dance, both trying not to be rude at the cashier but be fast enough to grab my veggies before they get shoved in bags by the Polyethylene Pam of the day.

A few weeks ago, my shopping basket included a rather voluminous pack of kitchen towels, the kind that would definitely not fit in my usual bags, and that I would simply lug home in my arms.

Aware of an opportunity to show his talent, the packing kid grabbed the pack, squeezed it with great pains into a plastic bag, and since it stuck out in an odd fashion, proceeded to use another three bags to make handles. A true work of art. A totally useless work of art: as I noticed, the pack of paper towels already came with a flimsy, but adequate, handle.

What would I tell the kid? Thank him for his zeal or tell him off for wasting his life all the way to the landfill? I smiled and left, nagged all the way home by the thought that this is what it’s like to put one’s heart into an utterly pointless, harmful even, task. Did he even realise it? Would I, in his place? Would I, if I were working in a job or industry that caused more harm than good, walk away or put all my heart into useless masterpieces?


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