Friday, September 3, 2010

13. Labor Day

Ah, nice weather, prospects for a long weekend. I’m gathering things to take to join my wife for a weekend at the farm. As I am waiting for some laundry to finish, a knock comes at the door. I open it to find what? Of all things, I find an oriental figure in a Chinese Coolie outfit, bent slightly with arms clasped under his chin and head bowed.

Ni houma, hau boohau,” he said, or something like that. Then: “Prease to arrow in?”

It had to be. “C. W.?” I said.

“Thought I fool honorable friend,” it said, gliding past me. I couldn’t help noticing a long pigtail falling down his back.

“What’s going on?” I said. “I was just getting ready to leave.”

“Ah, not to disturb. Want to wish Happy Rabor Day.”

C. W., would you cut the shit?” I said.

He looked up at me with a hurt expression. “Why so angry? No rike rong weekend?”

I resumed packing.

“Why does your species work so hard?” he finally asked in a normal voice.

“It is our curse, I suppose.”

“Curse or choice?”

A person has to eat and have a roof over his head.”

He sat and arranged his flowing gown. “Not take much time work to provide that.” He was back in his faked accent.

“Forty hours a week or more.”

Another change of voice: “Wrong, I calculate much less. Maybe half, Why not spend the rest of the time helping the distadvantaged and needy and then imagining and thinking how to make world a better place?”

“We call that Communism.”

“Ah, my mistake, I thought you call Christianity.”

I just looked at him as if to say, “How stupid.”

“You know about first Rair-road across country?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Who build?”

I was getting tired of this, so I mimicked a redneck conservative. “Muricans, by God.”

“Ah, not so. Mostly Chinese immigrants. Do all dangerous work. Brast and chip through mountains hanging from baskets. Make one foot progress per day through sorrid granite. More than one thousand roose rives.”

“Okay, and we are all grateful.” He was badly getting on my last nerve.

“Just a couple more questions, Jocko.” Here was the old C.W.


“How many times in your country’s great economic history have you produced great things without the use of free, slave, or below-living wage labor?”

I didn’t feel like playing his game. “Look,” I said. “My parents were sharecroppers during the Great Depression. Don’t blame me for slave labor.”

“Not brame,” he said, shifting back to his impression of coolie talk. “Make try to understand.”

“Understand this,” I said, extending a middle finger.
C.W. asks: "What's missing from this picture?

“Okay,” he said. “Another question.”

“One more, and that’s it.”

“Your country cerebrate working people this weekend. True?”


“Working people take day off from rabors, right.”


“Everyone honor honest rabor.”


“Then why bankers off too?”

Well, hell. How was I supposed to know?

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