I am eating an apple right now. It’s delicious – juicy, crisp and nutritious. The fact that I can possess and enjoy this apple, however, I take completely for granted. I don’t realize that it was probably picked from an apple orchard. The person was probably Hispanic (Americans don’t take jobs like that anymore). The apple probably made its way to some processing station, where hopefully it was cleaned of pesticides, packaged and prepared for shipping. Much of this was done by machines, machines which somebody assembled, possibly even directly runs, and machines which need maintenance by real live human beings. The apple found its way onto a truck (driven by a human being), unpacked (another human being(s)) and put on the shelf where I saw it and bought it. There is nothing too shocking here.
Now take into consideration that the Hispanic man who picked the apple has a family in Mexico. His wife is somewhere in the United States working as a cleaning woman (he doesn’t know exactly where, but is confident that she will write soon) while their 6 kids are receiving a combined $400/ week to cover their cost of living expenses in Mexico. Neither he or his wife has seen their kids in over a year, but are looking forward to saving enough money and having enough flexibility in their vacation time to corroborate a family reunion over Christmas. Meanwhile Cesar, their oldest, is running the family in Mexico. Word is he’s peddling some reefer on the side to earn some extra cash so he can move to the states. It’s dangerous, and he knows that, but the family is poor and anything he can to save enough money to move them. He tries his best to keep his younger siblings in line, but he’s overwhelmed by his 11 and 13 year old brothers especially. He caught one of them having sex with his girlfriend last week and it turns out she’s pregnant.
The machine worker/maintenance guy is nice enough but pretty lazy. He seems tired a lot, but it could be because his wife just left him and is just stressed. Sure his hours are reasonable, and his pay is fair, but she said she just couldn’t see herself married to a lowly machine repairman for her entire life. Some people are so frivolous. So in his dismay he’s been drinking more often. He knows it has affected the quality of his work, but he doesn’t really care anymore. Work is secondary to his happiness now, and he takes a lot of pleasure bellying up to the bar after his shift and drinking the pain away with the local barflies. His boss has really been on him to be more efficient, but he doesn’t seem to hear the message. He’s going to lose his job if he keeps this up.
The truck driver is as clean cut as a truck driver could be. In fact he’s such a hard worker that he is already 43 and still has never met anybody. But hey, he has to pay his bills somehow, and trucking is all he knows. He tries not to think about it, but the long road does get lonely now and again. “I don’t have enough time to care for a family anyhow,” he forces himself to say in his mind as the thought of love enters into his head.
The grocerer who unpacked the apples is a sweet girl, except for the fact that she is somewhat forgetful these days. A crate in the back warehouse fell on her head. Nobody saw it, and she didn’t want to tell anybody about it because she needs the hours and is already a month behind on her rent. They would probably send her home, and it was her fault that crate was in a perilously high position to begin with. No, there is no way she’s telling somebody even though she feels really dizzy. It’s at this moment that she wishes she had disability insurance, but she only works 34 hours/week so she’s not included in on any benefits. Oh well. It’s too bad because she’s really having problems. She oftentimes finds herself somewhere without any memory of why she was there and what she is doing. She had that happen to her today in the bathroom, so she just walked out. Well as it turns out that she went to the bathroom but forget to wash her hands in her stupor.
So that apple I’m enjoying actually has trace amounts of fecal matter on it, which is too bad for me because I can’t decide if my stomach cramps are from the thought of human resource representatives who care only about their bosses bottom line or if I contracted E. Coli.