I’m always fascinated by what I’d call the executioner role in society. It’s the role of someone who is doing a job that the given society has decided must be done, but then we blame and hate the people who actually do it. It’s why executioners supposedly wore hoods—concealing their identity so they wouldn’t face the blowback from doing a job that society deemed necessary. Nowadays we hate on lawyers and politicians, even as we need them.
I mention this, because I read this article at Salon and found it to be an interesting snapshot of an unpleasant but necessary job—cleaning up houses that have been foreclosed. The author and her boyfriend are the repo men, basically, though it seems most houses are empty when they arrive. I thought it was interesting how she describes how quickly you move from being concerned about the people that you’re cleaning up after to being utterly unconcerned and incurious. To my mind, that seems to be a survival strategy, an attitude you have to adopt or the job will make you lose your mind.
But the commenters at Salon—already a vicious, mean-spirited bunch—absolutely went bananas with judgment. The author and her boyfriend were called vultures, bad people, and other names, and it was suggested that they kill themselves. The fact that they have to carry a gun to work was held out as evidence that they’re bad people doing something wrong. And I just don’t get that attitude. I guarantee that every single one of these people saying these things would be ecstatic to see the clean-up crew roll up if a house was foreclosed in their neighborhood. And thus, I can’t help but think the second you get on your high horse about people who actually do the job, you’re automatically a giant hypocrite.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this, except to say it’s interesting that it’s so easy for people to scapegoat the people who do the hard, necessary work, and don’t attack the system that makes the work necessary.