Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Underground Economy

Reprinted with permission from The Midwest Marvel Newspaper, Chicago, Ill.

The Underground Economy by David Crawford

The workers wait on their usual street corner here in Middle America. Homeowners cruise past, eying the lineup of illegal aliens.

Every day these workers stream across the seemingly open border, crossing open fields, rivers, always on the lookout for the Border Patrol.

They do the jobs Americans either don’t want or are no good at. Jobs that are back breaking. Jobs that have no scheduled breaks of any kind, not even lunch.

No unions support these people – they work for cold cash. Nobody fights for better conditions or a contract for

higher wages.

They carry only the clothes on their backs, and the tool of their trade:

Snow shovels.

Yes, these are the migrant snow shovelers from a land called Canada, a land rapidly becoming a tropical paradise because of global warming, and where everyone used to shovel their driveway. Times are changing, and so are the patterns of weather – and work.

As the Arctic lows from their country spread far and wide, so too do the itinerant workers.

Heading southward in November and December, these illegal aliens are easy to spot by authorities. They wear goofy looking wool coats in red or green plaid, and snow hats they call toques (rhymes with Lukes. We were told it is NOT pronounced "Ski hat").

They carry snowshoes on their backs, always prepared. Enormous mittens, some with strings up their sleeves, round out their attire. And they chew on the rims of their paper coffee cups and look underneath. Why? No one here knows.

They speak a strange dialect, when they talk at all. Hard to understand what language it is.

“Shovel-yer-driveway-mister?” they say in their foreign tongue. “S’only-ten-bucks-for-a-driveway-or-twenny-


We wanted to learn more about this lifestyle and these people so we spoke with one of the fellows who looked like he was in charge. His name was Lloyd Robertson.

“So – been doing this kind of work long Lloyd?” I asked, slowly, hoping he understood.

“Oh-ya-we-been-comin-down-here-for-a-long-time-eh,” he said in his still indecipherable lingo.

The more I listened to him talking, the more it occurred to me he was speaking a form of English! It was clipped and crisp and hard to understand at first, but there it was. English!

It finally occurred to me where I’d heard that dialect before.

Peter Jennings.

“Why do you come here? And what do you say to all the 10 year old American boys whose jobs you are taking?”

“Well, sorry, but we’ve got no other choice but to sneak over here and hopefully not get caught because we are desperate. We have families back home that are counting on us and we need this income. At least until the hockey pools pay off. We don’t stay long on account of the beer and all. Sorry.”

“Plus we can smoke pretty much everybody at road hockey. We haven’t had this much fun since we burned down the White House in 1814. No offense of course. Sorry.”

Very polite these people.

The migration patterns and tactics are becoming familiar to authorities.

Officer Fred Johnson of the U.S. Border Patrol: “In spring, as warm weather moves north, Mexican labourers move with it to pick fruit, harvest crops and do summer yard work. In the fall, the wave of illegal migration reverses, and Canadians flood across the border, hot on the trail of the Mexicans, shoveling as they go.”

“We pick up this pattern when sales of doughnuts start to rise,” says Officer Johnson. “There are other tracking methods too. Cashiers report people asking for “Double double’s, and the trail of KitKat candy bar wrappers is also fairly distinctive. We don’t have those down here. Tasty.”

And so they go – these itinerant laborers who carry the load for us Americans, and who put an extra ‘u’ in their ‘or’-ending words.

Are they a burden to society who should be deported without pause? Or should we embrace these illegals for what they can do for our economy and lifestyle, not to mention our hockey teams when we could use a ringer or two?

Until Rush weighs in with an opinion we can work with, we'll just have to wait and see.

No comments: