electric coffee maker︎

Duet electric coffee maker, inventory No. MIM 2858/IX/335; created: 1967; manufacturer: Spółdzielnia Pracy Metalowo-Elektrotechniczna “Przodownik”; location: Gliwice, Poland; materials: metals, glass, copper, Bakelite, cotton fabric; dimensions [mm]: H 225, W 330, D 125.

This coffee maker was donated to the Museum by a co-owner of HB Części AGD s.c., located at Aleja Krasińskiego, in Kraków. This is a store that offers spare parts for electric and small household appliances. It was established in 1962 under the name “ARDOM” Household Equipment and Parts Distribution Centre. During the transformation and privatization process, it maintained its business profile but operated under a new name (#inherited_work).

The store started to collect household appliances in 1997 (#private_collections). For the first fifteen years of this collection, the store observed a period of fruitful acquisition of objects brought in by customers who had been encouraged by appeals posted in a display case, and objects transferred from the Market Hall in Kraków. Since 2012, the private collection has been growing at a much slower pace. The collector believes that the exchange of items hailing from the PRL has now become an uncommon practice.

The acquired exhibits were repaired, photographed against a white background, described (in terms of name, type, power, manufacturer, year and country of manufacturing), and subsequently added to an online Household Appliances Museum at http://www.hb-agd.pl/Muzeum.html (#private_museum). The items were simultaneously exhibited in the display case at the store. The entire collection included almost 300 items, many of which were donated to the Museum of Engineering and Technology in Kraków in 2015.

The coffee maker was among the first items added to the collection. “We do not know its power, but guess it is about 800W, as is the norm for an ordinary glass [coffee maker]”. The plastic inscription “Duet” is poorly attached, occasionally coming off.

Coffee, which some people need in order to start work, also accompanies some people during breaks from the activities they are engaged in. Coffee was once considered a luxury product, but was also an instrument of integration, socialisation, and distinction with regards to the hierarchy of the workplace.

The form of the work break has historically depended upon the profession practised, the position held, the #segregation of workers on account of gender, the changing labour code or the practice of observing it in individual workplaces. Thinking about the consumption of coffee during the work break provokes further thoughts about differences in the right to rest.
(#stimulants #hierarchies_at_work #socialisation_at_work #work adaptation #workbreak).

Zbigniew Włodarczyk, a textile worker by profession, recalls the 1960s:

There was not time to eat. If you did, you ate on the go during short walks around the machine, and those who smoked, the smokers, had a so-called smoking room. They would take a few minutes off to have a smoke. This was the whole break, with the rest being work.

Alina Marchewka, who worked for 36 years in a spinning mill in Łódź, when answering a researcher’s question about her ordinary working day and breaks, recalls the 1970s:

AM: At work? We did not have a meal break, because other halls had breaks, but not us. It just didn’t work. Well, for example, when you stopped a machine for a meal, then when you restarted it, everything would break, and this meant lots of work. Because everything broke and resulted in lots of work, we did not have a meal break, to simply eat.
Husband: This was eating on the run.
AM: As I said, you’d have a sandwich in your pocket and then you’d eat it with all the dust. When we had a good day, when we had good raw material, everything was well, then we’d have a break. You’d go to the canteen and eat unhurriedly. But if the raw material was crap, when it was impossible to work with it because it generated just dust, then you just couldn’t get away from the machine. Running to the toilet and back because the machine would just turn into shambles.

Another coverage, by Katarzyna Zawadzka, concerns the 1990s and working at the Zakłady Przemysłu Bawełnianego (Cotton Industry Works) in Łódź:

Life in the weaving mill, in general, was hard work, and at one point the female textile profession was compared to the male mining profession in terms of difficulty. So, you know, the conditions were actually quite harsh, especially given the temperature changes. Scorching heat in the summer was hard to bear. Of course, the plant provided the workers with mineral water or coffee, but tea was the order of the day. Bear in mind though that the coffee was “Dobrzynka”, which was a grain coffee, but that's normal. We had a stove, where a special lady worked, and she would prepare the drinks. There was mint, coffee, water, so a person could make tea, if brought. Oh, we also had a kiosk at each department. You could buy food there. I often bought food to take home. There was also a so-called hygiene room. You know, if a woman felt sick or needed first aid of sorts, well, that was the place to go. It had basic medications, like digestive bitters, cardiac drops, bandages, plasters, and the like, right? Our department had all kinds of dressings as well. Not all departments did, but we had these. 

Ewa Perlińska recalls her experience at the Zakłady Przemysłu Jedwabniczego (Silk Industry Works) from a similar period:

You know, I just really fancied being a lab technician, that’s it. I just like, wanted to, I lived this job. It was everything for me. During holidays or longer periods of leave I simply missed going to work, meeting people. Well, you know, the people in these weaving departments, very small, individual departments, we were really close with each other. We all really liked each other, just as a family. You can say we were like a family. There were friendships, even lifelong ones. We would meet after work and during work, and have coffee together, those were such times. The day started with a coffee and we would sit in the office, with the manager. The manager would sit down, and we would make arrangements as to who would buy doughnuts or cookies on a given day. And in the morning, when we came to work, that person brought doughnuts, cookies, and coffee for everyone, we sat down and spent, for example, half an hour drinking coffee together. We would eat the cookies. So, you’re buying tomorrow – ok.

In turn, the statement by Waldemar Ludwisiak on the Zakłady Mechaniczne (Mechanical Works) in Łódź refers to workplace hierarchization, reflected in the forms of spending free time.

MM: You mentioned this symbolic hierarchy (…) Did women have the same chance within this hierarchy? 
WL: No. Because in this case, we have to distinguish between certain things. Women were employed in assistant positions. In my entire career, I have never seen women working on high-end machines. Not in this industry. Here, the female [tasks] were auxiliary; the tool room was full of women, except for the manager. In all of these supporting departments, like for example, manufacturing distribution, half of the employees were women. Half of the employees at the technical inspection were also women, you know, in supporting roles. I have never encountered women on the production floor. Unless we speak of cleaning ladies. You know, cleaning toilets and so on. But not otherwise. Women, as I say, worked in engineering positions, but these are one-in-ten exceptions. On the other hand, drafting rooms had plenty of women (…) Besides, women were never with us during breakfast, never had them with us. Such a structure, that’s all. Women had their rooms, their changing rooms and so on, and they formed their own groups. So, there was no so-called integration in this case.
The coffee maker is an object that also inspires thinking about the arbitrary division of time into free and working time, which is triggered by the image below. This is a scene presenting young women drinking coffee.

The photo was taken in the 1960s in the People’s House, which was under the patronage of the Rural Youth Union (ZMW), in Kozłowa Góra near Piekary Śląskie. The photo may be seen in the light of its propagandistic functions. It shows representatives of the working class enjoying their time, drinking coffee for pleasure. The photo may be interpreted as a representation of social_advancement, but also reveal the politicisation of the idea of free time and the process of its creation in the period of communist Poland. In the PRL, free time became available to the most highly appreciated social group: the working class. The coordination of free time was an activity undertaken in tandem with the workplace. The operation of cultural centres, the bestowal Employee Holiday Funds, and the organisation of state holidays or #community_service were some of the endeavours undertaken to restructure leisure time and work time.
(#mixing of work time and free time #promotion #promotion_representations #emotions_at_work