Friday, August 29, 2014

Guest Workers And House Guests

Get ready: the following is mostly bleeding-heart liberal propaganda from a tree-hugging Californian hippie freak, brought on by buying a flat of strawberries from a guest worker who was selling them from a cart on the street outside our favorite outdoor restaurant. My soapbox is in place and I'm feeling spouty. If you want to come back tomorrow, that's okay by me.

Here in California, we have an entire economy built on guest workers, hard working people who come north to work in our restaurant kitchens, to help with gardening and building projects, to tend our (baking hot) fields and orchards, and to pick our strawberries. They come sometimes with their families and other times they come alone and work to send money back to their countries - that is so common here that there are multiple ways to wire money, and most are described in Spanish. That money represents a huge, informal form of aid to developing nations. And, without our guest workers, California's economy (and, increasingly, the United States' economy) would grind to a halt.

There are those who maintain that we'd have higher wages and better conditions for these types of labor if we kept them out, as Americans would never do this back-breaking work for the low wages our guest workers earn, and there's probably some truth to that. We'd pay more for vegetables and fruits, too, and building projects, and gardening, and restaurant food, to name just a few. But we'd also lose a part of the diversity of California without the lively Latino influence they bring, and that would make us poorer. It's just my opinion, but I think we should welcome our guest workers as enthusiastically as we welcome our house guests. That Lady with the Lamp welcomed half of my ancestors from Ireland; I would wish the same for today's immigrants.

Instead, we make it hard for them to even get a driver's license, they live with the daily threat of deportation, and families are broken up when that happens. How can any good come out of such a hard system? I wish I knew. One of the children I tutor lost her mother to deportation - the child was seven years old at the time. If that doesn't wring your heart, you must be a potted plant.

And we turn away mothers and children who are coming across our borders, fleeing conditions an American simply can't imagine. If we could imagine it, we wouldn't be so unwelcoming and harsh with people who are so desperate that they have traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles just to have a chance of life in this country. They leave behind everything that is familiar - land, families, even their language - for the whisper of a chance. 

I wish those dolts in Washington would read this and do something to help the folks who give us so much in their labor. Okay, I'm stepping down from my soapbox now, feeling a little better for having gotten that off my chest. 

On to the house guests!  

We invited, many moons ago, our Florida friends to stay with us when they come for their annual visit their daughter, s-i-l, and two year old granddaughter (who live in an apartment only big enough for them). As you know, the room we offered them is in the house that is still in full construction mode. 


It just so happened that My Beloved's daughter is away with her family this week visiting her husband's family on the East coast, so we and our house guests are bunked in Marin county for the long weekend, thanks to their warm generosity. My Beloved and I awake each morning to powder blue, stencilled on one wall with the Eiffel Tower, and a little crystal chandelier that hangs from the ceiling of our granddaughter's bedroom. Cora is enjoying having a back yard to roam around in and friendly neighborhood dogs to sniff butts with. We are enjoying our friends in congenial new surroundings.

If I'm a little late with Monday's fresh post, chalk it up to house guests. Gotta enjoy 'em while we can, before they head back to Florida for another year. And those other guests - I wish we gave them a good welcome, too.


Blogger Toons said...

Nicely put. Nothing to add.

Friday, August 29, 2014  
Blogger Greg said...

I have similar thoughts as I ride the Coast Starlight through the fields of So Cal. With few exceptions we are all immigrants.

Sunday, August 31, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Toons and Greg, nice to know someone agrees. Let's hope for better days for our amigos to the south.

Sunday, August 31, 2014  
Blogger Diane said...

I too am in total agreement with you. It's sad that our collective memory so easily forgets that our families too were immigrants.

How lovely that you get a respite from the construction with friends for the weekend.

Sunday, August 31, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Diane, thanks, and yes, it has been restorative to be with friends in a quiet place. :-)

Monday, September 01, 2014  
Blogger Katie Zeller said...

When we lived in Andorra all the workers were Portuguese. The population of Andorra was 65,000 of which only 6,000 were Andorran - the rest expats and workers. My cleaning lady ($25.00 per week) and her husband worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week. The plan was to work that hard for 10 years, then retire at age 50 and go back to Portugal. Last I heard, they did.
At least in Andorra the workers were appreciated.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Katie, I know there have to be better strategies for including guest workers, and the Andorran way is a good example. I wish our do-nothing Congress would come up with a workable solution.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014  

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