Sunday, August 30, 2015

Almost September

So we finally got paid from the farmer.  I tried calling him frequently; usually I was routed to a full mailbox.  Finally I got through to him and he strung us along for a few days.  That culminated last Saturday when he said he would hand us our checks Saturday -later.

Which turned into him not answering his phone and another full mailbox.

The Firebird had reorganized his Saturday evening schedule, so when the farmer didn't answer Sunday morning, I texted my neighbor, who had referred me originally, and was working the farmstand that day.

I told her to tell the farmer that if we didn't receive both overdue checks first thing Monday morning we would be out there picketing, and I would file a complaint with the labor board. (I already had the form)

Shortly afterward, translated into after coffee, I texted her again and told her to forget it and hoped she was well, because I didn't think it was right to involve her, even if she did and does work for the same fellow (who owes her something like 7 weeks pay)

Low and behold she pulled in Sunday evening waving envelopes-she said they were in the time card slot and she took the liberty to bring them to us.

Which was very strange, because a few weeks ago when farmer said he was doing payroll, we went the next morning to check the time card slot, and then called him, and when he finally returned my call he was quite snippy and said he put the paychecks for "people who worked for him" in the slots, but was to hand us our checks we had to go back after dark to pick up the one check several weeks ago.

I am fairly sure the neighbor passed on my first text.  I am terrible at manipulating people because I am too honest.  I wanted my pay and the Firebird his pay.  I gave farmer the benefit of the doubt (that he was too busy to write checks) and tried calling him to remind him.

 I don't think it was lack of money, because I was delivering huge amounts daily and seeing the invoices, plus he had bigger deliveries on his own truck.  Granted, the big supermarket chain might only pay monthly, but farmer never said it was a money shortage.

Farmer did have a reputation as a spoiled bully.  One person expressed the opinion that farmer just didn't want to pay.  So, the phone calling wasn't working.  You can't bully a bully.  Neighbor told me that farmer had lots of notes on board from the labor board, and he told her, "mothers looking for their sons payckecks"

We were not an isolated incident, by any stretch of the imagination.  But Firebird was heading for college and needed that money for books.

How could I bully an egotistical control freak in a non-violent manner?

The light bulb went off...picket the farm stand at the farm.  Farmer's wife has removed herself pretty much from the business, his teen children are little to no help (I was so proud of how hard the Firebird worked)...and farmer obviously did not me hanging around looking for checks if he wanted us to come after dark and see him personally. 

Picketing. Yep, I figured that would do it.  The last thing farmer wanted at the height of farmstand season was having a couple disgruntled employees waving signs around complaining of his not paying help.

My neighbor even commented on the rain we had that day when she gave me the checks-not good picketing weather...

So that ended well...although we still haven't filled out W-4's to account for that "estimated withholding" he tacked on to every check.

My friend is dying.  My friend with the colon cancer.,  They found another tumor near the original site, but it was big (3x7cm) and aggressive.  If you are squeamish you may want to stop reading.

He was five days in the hospital.  The couldn't get all of it, it was very deep.  And he went home with a drain and a vaccuum pump strapped to his stomach.  Which is a very clever idea, isn't it, with cancer?  To forcibly suck the fluids out of the surgical site where they removed the tumor.  But to read about it isn't the same as seeing your friend on a beautiful summer day, walking around his yard in a tshirt and shorts and sandals-with those comfy hospital socks still on his feet, while the machine strapped to him gurgles and farts (his rectum is sewn shut so those noises had to be coming from the drain in the enormous hole the tumor left in his bottom)

To see your friend, who had finally started to look normal again, and work again, be reduced to a cavernous smoky shadow of himself-yes, I can see the color of cancer, it is dusky black, and my friend has it bad.

Chemo again?  He went through 7 rounds of chemo after his first surgery, confident the extra treatment, although they were brutal and left him weak and sick, would be the cure.  And the cancer has returned.  More rounds of chemo-he says, "what choice do I have?" meaning, "should I just give up?"

He was to see his doctor the next day-I was thinking, has it spread??? I walked around like a zombie for three days.  I drank and smoked like a fiend.  My friend is dying. 

I finally looked up colon cancer online.  65% -five year survival rate.

  My friend said something about getting a pool next summer, when a visitor that stopped in, kept saying he had to get back to his pool ...R said, "I'm getting a pool next summer" but he looked at me and trailed off the end of the sentence.

My friend is dying.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Estoy bien

I haven't been blogging because what a story I have!

How to make it blog worthy, or should it become a chapter in a book?

We quit the farmer.  Adios Amigos. :(

Apparently the farmer has financial issues, or is too busy to do payroll. After waiting three weeks for one day of pay (my first week) we expected to receive paychecks on a regular basis.  HAHA

I made it quite clear, leaving notes..."Paychecks?"

Over the phone, "If we can't get paid in a timely fashion, this might not work out and we can seek employment elsewhere."

and finally, "give me a call when paychecks are ready, I am going to another job in the meantime."

This ultimatium was greeted with the guys circling me and trying to convey in my borken spanish and their broken english the fact that they had been MONTHS without pay, and asking me about "Estimated withholding" of 20% on their checks...I felt like Hugo Chavez.

Many hot hours picking tons of squash and cucumbers and the sweet corn...60 ears to a bag is pretty heavy and one day I had to deliver 47 bags of corn...

Three full weeks of back pay and no paychecks in sight, I quit.  Two weeks ago, and have received one paycheck on the three owed.

And the guys are still owed tons of back pay, and continue to work 14 hour days, although there was some attempt at a strike last Monday, which produced the one paycheck.

Most likely they are here illegally, and one of them has a two year old daughter born here.  They are the hardest workers I have ever seen.  Can you see three guys picking 15 five gallon buckets of green beans in two hours?  I am a pretty good picker and it takes me nearly an hour to pick one bucket.

We had one white teen boy last three hours in the squash field. He went home for lunch and never came back.

I imagine the senior picking beans since he could crawl.

"It's easy, see, see?" (Or maybe "Si, Si" ) he said to me as he brushesd the leaves away coming up with double handfuls of beans each swipe.

I feel bad sticking them with all that work.

But indentured servitude went out of fashion a long time ago.