Last week I was driving Highway 126 on my way to San Luis Obispo to help my daughter move some things into her new apartment.
While passing through a rich agricultural area outside of Santa Paula I pulled over to get a burrito from a food truck parked alongside the road. A young girl, around the age of 10, took my order and gave me my change. Her father was at the grill and her mother was overseeing the whole operation.
Aside from the burrito being delicious, it felt good to have a direct connection with the product I was buying — no middle man, no corporate logo, just a straightforward transaction between myself and the provider of the product.
Some say, as a result of the Industrial Revolution, that workers have become alienated from the products they produce. Consequently, we no longer feel connected to the goods we produce as a result of our labor. This connection still exists in many of the trades — masons to their stonework, carpenters such as Pete Holzman to the furniture they build, chefs to their food.
In the past if you wanted a pair of shoes, you went to a cobbler. A successful cobbler was one who not only made his living but also took pride in his craftsmanship; he may have felt a sense of purpose through his connection to his work. Now many of us work for one thing — money — with little or no connection to the fruits of our labor. We aren’t the wheel, only a cog in the wheel.
Maybe I’m romanticizing the past, but I get more satisfaction buying an apple from a family fruit stand alongside of the road than in a large supermarket. Maybe it’s the personal connection that satisfies me or maybe my mistrust of a group of anonymous board of directors in an office somewhere in the world leaves me feeling empty when dealing with a superstore.
I think something is to be said for knowing where your food is from or where your clothes are made, and that globalism has widened the gap between consumers and the means of production.
I believe there is nobility in a job well done, and that there is a greater probability that that job will be well done if your name is on it.
So the next time you’re on a road trip, pull over for a bite in that little hole-in-the-wall restaurant rather than a fast food chain or buy that handmade canoe hanging from the ceiling in a small country store, built locally by someone who loves canoes. It’s good for the local economy and it’s good for the soul.
Category: Off the Leash