Workmannequin


More expensive than an intern but with less complaining.


A blonde at the carwash stands blankly staring into space with her arms limp at her sides as a placard advertising $6 car washes rotates lazily in front of her. She is a mannequin, of course. The bangs of a blonde wig cover most of her face disguising all her features except for a passive, disassociative moué on her molded plastic lips. The placard is attached to a turn-crank attached to her navel. It rotates in a lazy up-and-down figure eight like the world’s laziest sign spinner ( which of course she is). She is the poor-man’s version of a sign spinner. Her makers didn’t even bother to bend her arms to give the illusion that it is she who is moving the sign- she’s just a decorative stand that happens to be woman shaped- perhaps to give the advertisement a human touch without having to actually involve a human. What she may lack in enthusiasm (or emotional affect of any kind for that matter) she makes up for in uncomplaining perseverance. Drag her out to the curb in the pre dawn hours and plug her in and she will work all day long with never a bathroom break or a sunburn or a word of complaint about the pay. What’s she going to do? Walk off the job? She’s not going anywhere, but just to be safe, her feet are bare and one ankle is visibly chained to the metal base that she stands upon. 

Every day I see this figure from the window of the bus. Today she stood in a cloud of soap bubbles being emitted from a bubble machine. Every day I look at her and struggle to decide whether I am looking at a picture of human laziness and tightwaddery, or at a pointed statement about attitudes towards the American work force. I know rationally that it is the former- someone’s idea of a cheap way to get attention with the minimum amount pic effort or expense, yet still my conscience is pricked by the suspicion that the underlying message has more to say about the fact that it is preferable to have an inanimate object do a job, badly, for free than to hire a human. So much preferable, in fact, that they needn’t even disguise the fact that the human has been replaced. 

I’m curious too, to know whether this actually sells more car washes, and, if so, is it noticeably more than when a human sign spinner stands out front or is it merely the same amount just with less expense? And is it worth the underlying message unintentionally being sent? Do they even care about the message? I doubt it. As long as people get the message that A Carwash Costs $6 there is no reason why they should care if there is a subtext that Humans Are Replaceable?

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 27, 2016.

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