On my way to work every day, I drive through miles and miles of farm fields—down Highway 129 connecting southern Santa Cruz County with San Benito County.
Every day I see the farm workers picking—no matter what the weather is like. They are bent over when I drive by in the morning and bent over when I drive back by in the afternoon. I swear my lower back aches when I see them stooped over—and picking the fruits (strawberries) and vegetables (lettuce) that I like to eat.
Every day I think about why they are out there breaking their backs and I am in my car headed to a comfortable office building. Why I get to use an indoor restroom. And why I get to wear something a little snazzier than a hoodie and jeans. OK, I wear a hoodie and jeans plenty, but my hoodie says “gLeek” and my jeans say NYDJ. And I don’t rummage around in the dirt wearing this outfit.
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. But for the grace of God go I.
2. I was born in America to parents (or people who claim they are) that valued education.
3. I got a good education.
The documentary, Waiting for Superman, about the dismal (distressing and horrifying) state of public education in America, is getting a lot of media coverage. Even Meg Whitman mentions it (in a self-serving way) in a political ad to stress her so-called dedication to improving education.
[Note to Meg Whitman: Here’s how you can personally improve education in California. Take that $140 MILLION that you’ve wasted so far on your campaign and HELP THE SCHOOLS (like the FaceBook guy is doing in New Jersey).]
Back to the farm fields…might this help educational motivation? How about organizing field trips for parents and school kids to check out this type of low-education job? Would that inspire anyone? It inspires me to be thankful I’m not walking in those farm boots.
Highway 129 ends at the 101. If you head north on this highway for half an hour, you’re smack in the middle of Silicon Valley. SV giants like EBay, Apple, Google, and FaceBook are all within spitting distance.
After the field trip to the fields, students and parents could take a field trip to Google.
Here are photos of its nice and comfy facility. (Similar to the headquarters in Mountain View, which is even bigger and probably has more chefs in the free employee cafeteria.)
You don’t even have to ask the kids where they would rather work.
Would these field trips inspire voters to hammer their school districts and elected officials to do a better job providing quality education?
I don’t know. But I do know no one WANTS to work in the fields. That’s just the best they can get.
Note: I was very nervous taking these photos on the side of the road. I thought some Field Mob Boss would chase me away thinking I was documenting crappy work conditions or I was a union organizer/civil rights activist or something. So I didn’t get out of my car.
I missed the one photo I have wanted to take for a long time. It sums up one aspect of the American experience. It is a photo of the backside of the portable toilets. There are hooks near the top and the farm workers hang their backpacks and clothes on them. An outhouse = “the office.” (When I’m not a fraidy-cat, I’m going to take that photo.)
P.S. Here’s my company’s employee lounge. Not exactly the Ritz, but I don’t have to worry about eating my lunch in a freezing rain or swatting away flies and sweat in the heat of summer. (A little too Grapes of Wrath?)
I snagged a few more photos: