When Did We Get So Helpless?

we-re-helplessI’m always fascinated (and constantly amazed) by the things some people will spend their hard earned money on. A couple of years ago, Maclean’s magazine featured an article entitled “Life With Help: How Did We Get So Useless?” The article discussed the growing trend towards outsourcing the things in our lives that we either don’t want to do, or that we struggle to find the time to do. It wasn’t a humour piece but, my sense of humour being what it is, I almost peed my pants laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of what some people are paying other people to do for them.

Simple Tasks for Hire

Apparently you can employ someone to assemble your IKEA furniture, scoop up your dog’s poop, program your remote control, or change your home’s light bulbs. You can hire someone to create a photo album for you, or to stand in line and buy concert tickets for you.

You can actually hire someone to place nice flowers on a loved one’s grave on your behalf (is it just me, or is that one a little creepy?). Need to return some merchandise to a store for a refund? There’s a person for that too. Maybe paying someone to get your money back for them kind of defeats the purpose of getting your money back though…just a thought.

You can hire someone to rearrange your furniture for you, or to clean out your garage. You can pay someone to cut your grass, trim your hedge, shovel your snow, clean your house, do your laundry, iron your shirts, wash your dishes, buy your groceries, and prepare your meals. And so on, and so on, and so on.

When Did We All Get So Freakin’ Helpless?

The magazine article quoted a Carleton University professor as saying:

You can pay for anything now, and if people can afford it, they’re doing it.

Of course, the problem is that most people can’t actually afford it. Buddy spends $250 to get his car detailed and then complains that he can’t save any money, or pay for his super-duper premium cable package. Hey buddy! Try a bucket of soapy water, a cloth, and a garden hose. Pull the floor mats out and put your vacuum cleaner to use. Clean the windows, and wipe down the interior. Use a q-tip to get into the hard to reach places, and now you’re detailing!

Of course there are some situations when we need to buy some help or expertise. No one who is not a licensed electrician should be wiring your air conditioner into the electrical panel. If your experience with chainsaws is limited to watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it’s probably a solid idea to call someone with a bit of experience before cutting down the tree in your backyard. I understand that if you are away from the house for ten hours while you’re at work, you might need someone to take the dog out for a walk.

I also get that sometimes it’s tough to stay on top of everything that needs to be done in our hectic lives, I really do. But if you’re paying someone to wash your dishes so that you can spend more time bonding with the kids, I can help. Hand them a couple of dish cloths and spend some quality time together at the sink. They’ll survive the experience, and so will you.

And if you’re paying someone to walk your dog while you’re inside the house…give your head a shake.

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