Specialization produces another bad effect, for it prevents the existence of the feeling of equality among employees in the same house. Each “specialist” speaks rather disparagingly of the other’s work, regardless of the relative position her own special “art” may occupy to the unprejudiced mind.
An amusing instance of this was recently shown at a country place near New York, when “the lady of the manor” asked a friend to send some one down from the city to help with the housework during the temporary absence of her maid. The friend could not find any one at the domestic employment agencies willing to go, but at last through the Charity Organization Society, she heard of a woman temporarily out of employment, who had been frequently employed as scrubwoman on the vacation piers. When the work was offered her, she accepted it immediately. Arriving at her new employer’s house, she began at once to scrub the floors, and when the work was completed, she sat on a chair and took no further notice of anything. The next day, having no more floors to scrub, the same general lack of interest was manifested. She was asked to wash the dishes after dinner. She replied that she was not used to “dishwashing,” and did not know how to do it. She was persuaded, however, to make the attempt, but performed her new task very reluctantly. The following morning she said she felt “lonely” and would return at once to the city. As the train came in sight to bear her back to her accustomed surroundings, she gave a snort of relief, and exclaimed: “I’m a scrubwoman, I am. I ain’t going to do no fancy dishwashing, no, not for no one; I’m a scrubwoman.” And she clambered up into the train with the alacrity of a woman whose dignity had received a hard blow.
The above illustration is typical of the spirit subjected to the system of specialization, and shows how unwise it is to encourage it in the home where all branches of housework could be easily made interchangeable.
Under the new system of limiting housework to eight hours a day, the housewife must insist that all applicants be willing and able to perform any part of the housework she may assign, and their duties ought not to be specified otherwise than by the term HOUSEWORK. The employee who refuses to wait on the table during the absence of the waitress, or to cook, or to do the laundry work, or to answer the telephone, or to carry packages from her employer’s automobile to the library, because she does not consider it “her place to do these things,” should be instantly discharged.
These very important conditions being understood and conceded, the choice and arrangement of the eight hours’ work must necessarily lie with each individual housewife. Each family is different and has different claims upon its time. The “rush hours” of social life are sometimes in the evening, and sometimes in the afternoon, and again in some families, especially where there are small children, the breakfast hour seems the most complicated of the day. All these details have to be carefully thought of when making an eight hour schedule. At the end of this book a set of schedules is placed. Any intelligent housewife can understand them, imitate them, and in many instances improve them. They are merely given as elementary examples.