The Clockboy, Graphite & Digital Media, 11″ x 14″, 2016.
In Victorian times, clocks were expensive. It was not uncommon for working class people to hire someone called a “knocker-up” to tap on their bedroom window at a certain hour in order to wake up in time for work.
I love how people always lament new technology because they think robots are going to take all of our jobs. “Woe, when we have self-driving cars we won’t need taxi drivers anymore” …honestly, these new inventions always lead to obsolete jobs being replaced with new ones.
Seriously, you know what people probably moaned about in the early 20th century? Alarm clocks. Before that you had to literally hire someone to rap on your window with a big stick in the wee hours of the morning. They called them “knockers-up” because all innocent Victorian slang sounds dirty today. But they existed. Seriously, look it up.
Those people went the way of the dodo, but suddenly guess what you had? Factories hiring people to make alarm clocks, and stores hiring people to sell them. Alarm clock repairmen.
We hate losing jobs to technology because we’re just used to having them around, but in a hundred years people will think we were dumb for being nostalgic about this stuff while flipping out over how their technology is suddenly obsolete.
A Knocker-up was a profession in England and Ireland that started during and lasted well into the Industrial Revolution and at least as late as the 1920s, before alarm clocks were affordable or reliable. A knocker-up’s job was to rouse sleeping people so they could get to work on time.