So when we moved, I transferred. Managed to keep with the same company. But sadly, I'm pretty much the most junior guy in a shop where instead of four guys, there are thirty.
So I'm on the spare board. This means I take the shifts no-one at all wants.
So last week I was slated to work the lowest-paying job in the shop on Monday and Friday, and that was it. Then they called me in on Wednesday and Thursday.
Thursday arvo I come in and notice my name's off the board for Friday.
Oh well, I oh-welled, No worries. I don't need the hours and I don't exactly love that job anyway.
At six-something-ty this morning, the boss phoned. They want me to come in. To do exactly the job they pulled me off of yesterday.
I am not thrilled. My back hurts a bit, I had bad sleep and wound up being awake three hours last night ... Wah, wah, wah.
Somewhere out there, a person possibly named Miguel, or Rosa, or Frank, is dragging himself (or herself) off of his bed (or her bed) and putting his feet (her f-- ... You know, I'm gonna stop this now) on the floor.
Miguel is undocumented, and so makes less than minimum wage. The work is physically brutal, the shifts, while officially ten hours long, run twelve to fourteen, but nobody complains. There are no health benefits. The workers have a joke about "work 'till your break or work 'til you break." There are no benefits, and no breaks. Frank blew out his back last week--He's worried one of his discs may be ruptured.
Last year, a guy named Fidel started a drive to unionize. He and six other workers got a sign-up sheet going. Fidel got picked up by Immigration last month. And five of the other six haven't shown up to work since. The sixth guy just got promoted to shift supervisor, night shift--A position understood to mean "Company Stool Pigeon, Third Class."
Miguel can barely make rent, and can't afford to go to a doctor to get his back fixed. Besides, under new Immigration laws he thinks the doctor might have to report him as undocumented.
So he rises, grimacing, and slouches down to the bus stop with a cup of coffee in hand, trying to shift as he walks to ease the pain.
As he waits for his bus, he takes out the letter in his back pocket:
The baby is better, but we miss you so much. Thank you so much for the money you send ..."
The bus hisses and chuffs to a stop, and Miguel grimaces, rises, and goes to work.
My job is unionized, with benefits, and I make a good bit more than the minimum here in Canada, and a $#!7load more than the minimum in the US.
Gratitude. I haz it.