Via Colby Cosh,
who spends a lot of time looking into the English language foreign press, this story from Yemen, about "human trolleys."
Pre-Ramadan shopping in Saudi Arabia means it`s time for the annual reappearance of the kingdom`s familiar Yemeni "human trolleys"
Human Trolleys of JeddahJEDDAH, 8 August 2006 — With the approach of the peak shopping season in the holy month of Ramadan, it becomes quite a common sight to see seasonal illegal workers, locally known as human trolleys, carrying people’s shopping in Jeddah’s downtown Balad district. The human trolleys carry big empty boxes and ropes to carry goods and offer to carry anything small or big for a minimal fee. Empty boxes are used to store the goods and then tied up with the rope. These human trolleys carry the box over their heads and follow the shoppers from one shop to another until they finally reach their cars.
The "Human Trolleys" are of course what used to be called "porters" in England in the eighteenth century.
They had the same ropes and a thing called a "porter`s knot"
that they wore on their heads like the "tump lines"
used by Indians and masochistic Canadian canoeists.
This kind of employment is not just the kind of work Americans won`t do, it`s the kind of work nobody
should be doing. Here`s another example, from the late Carl Sagan:
LATE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, Leib Gruber was growing up in Central Europe, in an obscure town in the immense, polyglot, ancient Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father sold fish when he could. But times were often hard. As a young man, the only honest employment Leib could find was carrying people across the nearby river Bug. The customer, male or female, would mount Leib`s back; in his prized boots, the tools of his trade, he would wade out in a shallow stretch of the river and deliver his passenger to the opposite bank. Sometimes the water reached his waist. There were no bridges here, no ferryboats. Horses might have served the purpose, but they had other uses. That left Leib and a few other young men like him. They had no other uses. No other work was available. They would lounge about the riverbank, calling out their prices, boasting to potential customers about the superiority of their drayage. They hired themselves out like four-footed animals. My grandfather was a beast of burden.[Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.]
It hasn`t got that bad in the US, yet, but it`s heading that way:
In that harbinger of the American future, Southern California, once the Promised Land of the middle class, unskilled labor has become so plentiful that now a common weekend sight is people who are paid to stand on corners and try to catch your eye by randomly wiggling brightly colored directional arrows, typically pointing to real estate open houses.It`s the 21st Century equivalent of the Depression-era advertising practice of hiring unemployed men to walk around wearing sandwich board signs saying "Eat at Joe`s."And it`s just as depressing.[ “Human Directionals”—The Cheap Wage/Expensive Land Economy Personified, By Steve Sailer, December 18, 2005]