Sunday, April 30, 2006

Real Suffering and Seeking Hope

I just read a really sad story about an Afghan girl. She was married off at the age of 4. She is now 11 and has endured merciless beatings and abuse by her father-in-law and her husband's family. Reading this makes me sad for her. On the other hand, reading about her belief in the kindness of others despite the abuse, it brings me some joy. She had hope that crawling away with a broken arm or leg would lead to a better life; and it did.

There is a saying somewhere about a person who was sad about not having shoes until he met a person who had no feet. The point being, you should not feel bad for yourself because there is always somebody worse off. I was actually sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I've been holed up for a couple of days, not leaving home if I could help it. Some of it stems from being jobless, some of it from having an uncertain future, and some of it accepting my fate for the next couple years as a menial worker. I watched Fun with Dick and Jane last night and I really identified with them. Well, maybe not as much. I've never owned a home or a BMW. I can identify with having high expectations for myself, but having to settle for less than my abilities. I always get complements on my intelligence and abilities, but it never translates into a job. I've tried loyalty and it doesn't get reciprocated. Never mind all that, I'm falling back into loser thought patterns.

Whatever the case may be, things aren't bad. I have a family. My wife has a decent job. I can still get a job at minimum wage (in the RGV, nobody likes to pay more than they legally have to). And, I can get two jobs if I want. I proposed to my wife that I leave the RGV to seek work and then she and the kids could follow. She objected. I'll take that under advisement. I am still considering the move despite her objection. Maybe that contributes a little to my sadness, knowing that I may have to leave my family for a while.

The reason for leaving the Rio Grande Valley to find work is that even though there is work here, nobody cares to pay more than they have to. If employers could legally pay less than minimum wage, they would. Up north, you could pay employees less, but you'd have no employees. Despite high gas prices and other troubles, there is a labor shortage in the country. You'll never hear this in the news because "George W. Bush has created the worst economy ever". Riiight. That's why so many illegals are working in the U.S. Here in the RGV, a Democrat stronghold, we have higher unemployment and lower wages. You might say that it's due to the high population of illegals. Well, who is it that objects to closing the border? Dems have a poor track record in helping me get ahead. At least with Republicans I know I'm on my own. No false promises.

So, I may decide to go up north to find work. If that does happen, I will blog my adventures as a migrant. Having grown up migrant, there are some aspects of the life that I miss. I like traveling. I like the uncertainty, which is different from the uncertainty here. Here, there is the uncertainty of finding a job. Up north, there is the uncertainty of who will hire you first. I like starting from scratch. Some people hate this. But, when you start from nothing, you can always look back and point to what you accomplished. That is something I like.

There is an accounting joke. An immigrant man opens a shop and is able to put his kids through college. One day, one of his sons who is studying accounting complains that the man's books are a disaster. He asks his dad, "How do you even know if you are making a profit?" The father replies, "when I got to this country, all I had was the clothes on my back. Take your college education and this shop, and subtract my shirt and pants. There's your profit."

Similarly, arriving up north with my family as a kid, all we took was a TV and some clothes. We never had a "for sure" job lined up. We just showed up and within a week we had work at some farm with housing. If not a farm where I could work as a kid, my parents could line up work at a factory while us kids went to summer school. We'd then start getting furniture, vehicles, and other assets that we could enjoy and then sell during off-season. When I was 15, I drove a car from Wisconsin to the RGV. I could barely drive when I left and was an old pro when I got here. Each of my parents drove a car as well.

If I do choose to take up my migrant heritage, I have two options. I could go to Wisconsin, where I have relatives and can network to find a decent job. Or, I can go for something really uncertain by heading for one of the states along the Rocky Mountains. I don't know which would be best insofar as jobs, but the mountain states would be great for mountain biking.

In summary, I need a good kick in the pants to get over my slight depression. There is real suffering in the world (and you liberals can stuff it with the "plight of undocumented workers"). I will concede that things could be worse. I'll be working on plans for the summer. In the meantime, I am looking forward to a book by Ben Stein:

I need to read something inspirational along those lines. I will also be working to pass my finals at UTPA. I should probably start working out in case I have to work in the fields this summer.

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