Making Sandwiches

I Worked Hard For It All, Without Help From Anyone.

She was working from home alone and had become slightly hungry.  She thought about her options from what was available and resolved to make a ham and cheese sandwich.  All the necessary ingredients were there in her cupboards and fridge – her favourite bread, cheese, style of ham, butter, sauces etc. – and so she began preparing them.  Finally, when the sandwich was as she prefers a sandwich to be, she ate.   She made her lunch and ate it.  Following her satisfying lunch she was fuelled to do all of the other activities that she did during the day (with the aid of quite a bit of coffee).  It had fuelled her to continue to work hard and get on with her life for a little longer; fuelled her towards hitting more of those targets and the rewards promised to her for her hard and important work.  A step closer to that bonus, securing that commission and getting that new high-powered German luxury executive saloon.  But there is a background to her sandwich which has been neglected.

A few days earlier she ordered groceries online from her local grocery store (because being a busy person, she had no time to go to the shop).  Some of those groceries would become her sandwich ingredients.  A woman whom she would never meet received her order and processed it. That person gave the order, in turn, to her colleague who collected the groceries as they were listed; she spent about 40 minutes gathering them in a trolley.  Once they were all collected and verified, the order was arranged in bags and crates for delivery to the home of the sandwich loving lady.  At the appointed time, a delivery driver – one of three on duty in the shop at that moment – would lift the crates into his van and deliver them to her home.  When the customer signed for the delivery, the delivery man was the only person whom she had contact with throughout the process.

A day before the delivery, the bread, cheese, ham, butter, sauces and everything else was packaged in the facilities of the respective food companies and delivered to grocery stores all around the area.  Packaging people packaged, delivery drivers delivered to shops and supermarkets. Prior to the packaging process, bakers baked the bread (with everything that that involves), cheesemakers made the cheese (with everything that that involves), butchers – and people working for meat companies – oversaw the production of the pre-packed sliced ham, and creameries and sauce factories were filled with employees doing various things to mass-produce butter and sauce.

Prior to that, the bakery company needed to order the ingredients to bake bread, the creameries needed ingredients to create cheese and butter.  All the different producers needed the tools to make products from their ingredients, and they needed engineers, technicians, IT experts and mechanics to ensure the tools and machines continued to work efficiently.  Prior to that, countless people did countless things to make all of this happen.

How many people does it take to make a ham and cheese sandwich?

When she considered what to eat for lunch that afternoon, the process would have been more or less the same had she decided to have a salad or a chocolate bar or anything else.

invisible working classWe are all connected.  We are all part of something called society, doing something which contributes to one another’s lives.  All of what we have is only made possible due to the work of others and this simple fact is generally ignored.  The working-class, producing all of this essential stuff, receives no media coverage for their achievements and thankless drudgery, and will never experience owning that luxury executive vehicle.  None of us – however hard working – has achieved anything on our own.  It has been made possible by the efforts and struggles of countless humble people.  They carry this out daily, invisible.  The very expression of our individualism – and we are all different and unique and wonderful – is dependent on each other.

Food for thought the next time you make yourself a sandwich.