Rule One: Don’t Be A Jerk
This is a post I’d never want to write, it’s not nice and it’s hypocritical, but it needs to be penned.
There is a rule above all rules in community living and it is “Don’t be a jerk”. Now this rule, as I see it, covers a lot of ground, most of it self-evident: no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, no discrimination, no violence, treat others with the respect you expect treated yourself and that means if you see a job that needs doing, do it. If you can. Community is only possible with the Don’t Be A Jerk rule. As I say, self-evident, right? Well not always.
Many years ago when I was a young man I was Interrailing and was on a train in the former Yugoslavia. During the long journey I needed the toilet. I was warned not to go there by a fellow journeyman. I went anyway and the sight has remained with me since, the small closet door was open, it was open because it couldn’t close, it was wall to ceiling faeces, urine, sick and nappies, a room full of shit and piss. How could it have got that way? Certainly not by not giving a shit, lots gave of them self, physically. It’s easy to imagine how this “Shituation” came about, one day one person said, “Somebody else can do it”, and so nobody did it and then the WC was full and nobody without proper training and equipment could do it. If it ever got cleaned I don’t know and never will.
Yesterday someone of the community, was staring at the filthy rinsing water and wondering what to do with their plate and cutlery. “Empty the dirty water and fill it with new”, I suggested. “No, somebody else can do it”. “Fuck”, I thought, you lazy bastard, you take from the community resources and give not a single simple task back in gratitude that is beyond what you promised to do at the morning meeting. It took me 90 seconds to empty the bowl and refill it. The individual finished their plate and went on their way perfectly content. I’m sure most have us have walked past jobs that need doing in the knowledge someone else will do it, and the first couple of days can always be problematic. For example I heard a story from a Newbie the other day. The individual was on bar duty and was sat there awaiting chore instructions. After a while a long-term member of the community approached the bar and said, ” Do you think being a bar person involves more than being sat on a stool” and set up the task of filling the fridges with beer, a very time consuming task. Some time later the bar manager returned and said, “Fuck what have you done?” but said not to worry and set about emptying the fridge again. It was quite ironic the the taskmaster was, rightly, critical of the wasted labour hours on the farm. So entering a new community can be frustrating before you find your role, or your role finds you and you can find yourself flailing around looking for purpose getting in the way. If you’re a first timer don’t worry, you’ll find your place.
But I know I have walked past jobs and that’s why I’m a hypocrite but when the buck stops with you just do it. It’s the COMMUNITY thing you came to experience; if you want to come as a guest and do no community work then fine, very reasonable rates are available on Airbnb or camp for cheaper and nobody should expect you to chip in, you’ve more likely to have exchanged paid labour hours elsewhere to have the luxury of not doing anything now. But if you’ve come to experience community living and consume community resources, perhaps with the idea of starting you’re own little community, then do the job that stands in front of you and don’t pass the buck. Don’t be a jerk.
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