When I was little, I admit I believed Santa kept a list of the naughty and nice. After Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November), my Mom used this as a constant threat against digressions big and small right through Christmas Eve bedtime. “Santa knows who’s been naughty or nice,” she’d say menacingly. “Now, fuck off to bed.” Ok, I added the fuck, but I know she was thinking it in her exhausted mind. Afterall, she had five young children. In this time of Covid-19, we have a new list of the naughty and nice, but now we call them essential and unessential workers.
Turns out the essential workers are all those hard-working, sweat-on-the-brow types: nurses, doctors, teachers, grocery stockers, mechanics, infrastructure builders, truck drivers, etc. Often unappreciated and mostly underpaid, we realize in this new world, it’s really them that keep us spinning round right. Now, I’m not disparaging the banker, the lawyer, or the professional athlete, they have their uses, but let’s admit it, they’re on the naughty list for the time being. And I guess I am on the same list, because I’m unemployed at the moment too. I work construction in New York City and they’ve found a way to keep most projects going by deeming them essential, meaning they fell under the heading of medical, infrastructure or modified housing. Usually, I build apartment buildings which often include some percentage of “affordable” units and, therefore, fall under the heading of modified housing. In the trades, we fully realize this is a bunch of malarkey to keep the big real estate tycoons rolling in dough. As it happens though, my project is shutdown because workers keep getting diagnosed with the disease.
So I’m officially a member of the unemployed, one of the tired (bored?), poor (just got my stimulus check though), huddled with the masses, yearning* to get back to normal or, as my saintly Mom might say, “Now, fuck off and get a job.”
*pardon me, Emma Lazarus
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