I am a huge fan of organic and whole foods. So when I grocery shop, I go to Mother’s Market in Laguna Woods, or Whole Foods in Tustin. I read labels and am very picky about what goes into my body.
Anyway, I went to Mother’s today to pick up a few things I needed. Since I go there consistently, I have become acquainted with several of the people who work there. I enjoy talking to people and they regale me with their own personal stories and moods. Many of them share similar philosophies about health, recycling, and environmental concerns. It may be that the company’s culture attracts such people.
Today, the cashier, a long-haired, tattoed, very nice fellow whom I’ll call Chuck was on duty. The moment I got to his checkstand, I noticed he was very restless. I asked him the customary “how are you?” and he replied “terrible”.
“Well”, I ventured, “should I ask why or will that make things worse?”
“No, I’ll tell you,” he replied. “I am so sick of arrogant, selfish, apathetic, greedy people. I just can’t stand it. No one cares about the environment and capitalism is out of control. I hate capitalism. I’m tired of the way people act in Orange County and the US.”
I could hardly argue with his take on humanity in this country, even though my own opinions of people are more optimistic. All kinds of people travel through this young man’s checkstand, and as I remember from being a grocery checker in the old days (1979!! pre-scanners!) you encounter all kinds of people in a day’s work with the public.
So, I sympathized with his point of view. I soothed his fears about capitialism, assuring him that capitalism is not in itself a bad idea, but that the extreme capitalism we see all around us at the moment is the problem. It’s funny because when I was this man’s age, I thought socialism seemed like a pretty good idea too – everyone gets an equal share of everything. Sometimes now when I read the news or see a bit about Wal-Mart and how they treat their people, the old pro-socialism thought rears its head a little bit. But now that I am older and wiser, (and yet someone whose politics tend to veer to the left) I understand that capitalism is not the enemy and socialism not the answer. Like capitalism, socialism still has at its root a central group of people who govern, who take for themselves the best of the spoils before the people get their share.
In our country, this administration and the neocons have as their base the rich and privileged. Business is catered to at the expense of the environment, health and social services. This is not a profound idea, of course, but why is it so hard for people to see? These people that the young man is complaining about in Orange County are members of this base. Many of them have no idea of the hardships others face in the world – their counterparts who have two or three jobs and still can’t make ends meet because businesses are allowed by the govt to pay a very low wage. Note to self: find out what Mother’s pays its employees.
Which brings me to another Mother’s employee, whom I’ll call Hildesio. He has three children, and has two full-time jobs, and contrary to popular belief, pays taxes. He clocks out of Mother’s and goes to his next position. His wife also works two full-time jobs. Hildesio’s eyes look tired all the time, but he never fails to flash me a friendly smile and talk to me a moment whenever I see him. I enjoy giving him a big hug before I leave.
You may have guessed Hildesio is an illegal alien. That’s another thing he worries about – whether of not he will get deported sometime in the near future, though he works harder than many citizens do and pays as many taxes as they do. I can only deduce that this is unlikely as the hypocrites in government who are blindly supporting commerce would not force their friends to pay someone like Hildesio a living wage that would raise their business costs. So, ironically, Hildesio can keep his jobs because a government law to raise wages to a living level will never happen.
Sleep tight, Hildesio (that is if you have time to sleep). Your jobs are safe. I will see you next week. Say “hi” to the wife and kids for me (if you ever see them).