Friday, February 07, 2003

Talked to a guy tonight...

Janitor. Worked overtime. Didn't sleep for over 24 hours.

I keep meeting these folks--taxi drivers, janitors, cashiers--who work so many jobs and don't sleep...or sleep 4 hours a night. The one cab driver told me that she works 7 days a week and her 'day off' comes to 8 hours without working. (She works shifts where she only gets 4 hours to sleep.) Lots of them sleep in their cabs since they have to pay almost $100 to rent the cab and it takes at least 12 hours to make it back and make a profit.

It's as bad as 19th century industrialism. People are busting their ass just to pay for a freaking place to sleep at night. Of course--they don't get a union. For some reason, the hoards of people who are virtually slaves so that they can survive so that other people can be rich doesn't seem to trouble most people.

Because it's America, right? We have it good, huh? So it's OK.

I don't sleep but it's different since it is partly my own fault--although we compared notes on sleep deprivation and what it does to you.

All the same he said 'I can't complain...' etc. 'Cause he's an immigrant and can compare himself to all the people at home who are really in bad shape.

I said: "You should complain! Complain away. I'd complain. I hate to work for 3 hours let alone 30."

Of course that is totally self-serving. If this guy can't complain then I sure can't complain. And I want the right to complain. This is why I strongly urge everyone to complain as much as possible. Frankly, no one should have to work more than three hours a day and be paid enough to eat out at least twice a week--at a good restaurant. Everyone should be able to go the movies once a week. And of course--afford to buy all the food they can eat. Over and above having a nice place to live. That's my view. If you don't get it (or even if you do and everyone around you is an asshole) then you should complain...a lot.

I guess I shouldn't be so presumptuous to give him advice but I can't help myself--I dispense advice to just about everyone. He was super nice--he offered to give me a ride home. Total sweetheart...We had a nice Spanglish conversation. He's from Guatemala but not a part I've ever been to.

Oh, and I forgot this other thought: A lot of times if I'm in an urban area where there are no bathrooms and I need to pee but all the places won't let you use the bathroom unless you are a customer I look around for someone who isn't native born. I know that a native born American might embarass me by saying no but any cafe worker or janitor or what have you who isn't from the U.S. would never deny his or her fellow man a pee.

U.S. born people are more likely to enforce the rules and be jerks and for some reason I always feel so dumb when they do that I'm afraid to ask.

I was happy today because I was outside smoking and this guy who was driving a snow plow stopped and asked me for a cigarette. I had to go in and roll him one. Then he had to use the bathroom and I let him use the bathroom in our office and then I gave him some of our office coffee (fortunately, all the scary boss-people left early due to the snow). He was from Ireland. So I got to return the favor and let an immigrant pee since I'm always counting on them to let me pee.

I was happy. He asked me out, unfortunately. It seemed to make little difference to him that I was married, etc. He was a little pushy but whatever. At least I got to pay at least one immigrant back for their bathroom-access-generosity.


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