I was going to tell a long Labor Day story that finished up with a seventeen-year-old me standing in front of the manager of a grocery store where I was employed–one of the baggers, who were largely high-school girls, had almost gotten abducted in the parking lot, and I encouraged her to go to the union rep–and hearing that my hours weren’t being cut because I’d told her to go to the rep, they were being cut because having two baggers working the late shift in order to get the shopping carts after dark was so financially impossible someone had to lose out. And hearing that walrus of a man gravely intone, “See, now, this is where feminism has actually HURT you girls–”
At that point I stopped listening, taking refuge in my teenage “mmm-hmmmm…” face, withdrawing inside myself. I quit soon thereafter, and last I heard that manager had retired. Probably with a fat pension I don’t begrudge him, even though he was a skinflint misogynist walrus.
Anyway. I was going to tell that story in my own inimitable fashion, to mark Labour Day and express my support for everyone who fought (and in many cases died) to bring us the eight-hour day, forty-hour week, overtime, safety regulations, and the like. And are still fighting, in many places, including some you wouldn’t think of as needing some battles.
I guess I told the story anyway. To this day I wonder what would have happened if my fellow teenage checker–who was saved by a customer driving wildly across the parking lot, honking and flicking her lights, while the van that had been creeping up on its victim sped away, its side door closing rapidly–hadn’t been lucky. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t quit, or if I’d gone to the union rep over that whole thing. While I’d fight for someone else, I often have trouble advocating for myself, and I hated that job anyway. Still, I was lucky too. I had the option of going somewhere else, anywhere else, to get away.
Like I said, I was all set to tell the story in a long post, but I realized after running four errands this morning that I had left the house without coffee. So I’m nursing a headache and pouring some French press down my throat.
Happy Labour Day, everyone.