Last year I read a book that really moved me, it was John Steinbeck’s “The grapes of Wrath”.
I can’t sum up the whole book accurately but basically this family is forced to move to California to try to find work but when they get there they realise it’s all a corrupt scam. There is work but there are also millions of people fighting for the few jobs available so the owners of the farms have the luxury to give the jobs to those who are willing to work for lesser pay. Basically they made people fight each other to be slaves.
But the people had to survive and even a miserable pay was better than no pay when they had to feed their families. So whenever someone tried to rebel against such corruption and unfairness, it had almost no impact because even if the rebels refused to work, someone else would do the work instead. Even if the rebels tried to talk with people to try to make things better for everyone, but no one could afford to listen. They needed the work. They needed the miserable pay. They didn’t need to rebel, they needed to eat.
When I read that book I thought about how hard it is to actually make people listen to you, even if you were trying to make things better for everyone, not just for you.
Now I get to experience being an unheard little person trying to convince everyone things could be better. Of course it is NOTHING compared to the desperate situation in the book but my rebellion is just against a simple heater.
In New Zealand winter is beginning, and with 13 degrees Celsius in Auckland, in my opinion it’s still not cold enough to justify paying $10 a week for a heater.
But the owners of the house I am currently renting a room in, have been wanting to “rent” heaters to us for over a month now. Their system is to make a vote and when they get the most votes on people who think is cold then they rent out one heater per person and start charging $10 per week, per person. The heaters go to everyone regardless if you want it or not.
Beginning of June and everyone in the house voted it is still not cold enough for heaters but the owners seemed to ignore that and at night we had a heater in each room.
Even if it was not that cold since I now was paying for this unwanted heater, I had to use it right?
I used it for about 2 or 3 hours one night and suddenly my throat felt so dry I thought I was in the middle of the desert. I quickly turned the heater off and drank some water. But it was much too late….
Next morning I had undoubtedly caught a cold.
It was the heaters fault.
I started talking to the rest of my housemates. One of them said she also had the same reaction as me, she used the heater for a few hours and caught a cold soon afterwards. She hasn’t used the heater since. But she had no interest in talking to the owner about it.
Then I talked to another housemate and he just agreed that the heater dried up the air and he said it would be nice to have humidifier to go with it. But the conversation with him trailed off to nothing afterwards.
Then I talked with another girl who has been living in this house for a few years and said she didn’t use the heater much, because every year she caught a cold right after using it. But when I mentioned something slightly against the owner’s policy on the heaters by saying something like:
“The owners are just giving out this cheap heaters to have an excuse to charge us $10 more” the girl completely flipped out and turned in defence of the owners, almost as if they were standing right behind me…they weren’t.
I don’t think the owners of this house are particularly evil or anything. And I don’t think they purposefully give this heaters to make us sick but the truth is these heaters suck! And to force them on us even if we can’t use them and charge us for it!? Nah, there has to be a better way!
All I wanted to suggest was that if more than one person said the heaters were actually unusable because it affected our health then we might be able to negotiate better arrangements. Maybe those people who want the heaters can pay for them and those who don’t want them give them back and don’t pay the extra.
Maybe get some humidifiers or a different type of heater. If we are paying for it, shouldn’t it be better?
But no one was willing to acknowledge the fact that it was a crook-y deal. No one was interested in improving the situation. Why? Because it’s comfortable not to stir the waters. Don’t shit where you eat or something like that.
Now I have experienced when a revolution attempt fails. It feels terrible. Being shy as I am my only solution now that every one of my house mates has refused to back me up is the following:
I will continue to pay $10 a week, for a total of $40 a month to have this piece of shit heater decorating my drawer. That is evil.