Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Asian Factory Workers Doing Their Part"

Two Asian factory workers sit side-by-side at their worktable, toiling away.

ASIAN FACTORY WORKER NUMBER ONE:  “Do you think the people we are making these for know we’re eleven?”

ASIAN FACTORY WORKER NUMBER TWO:  “I doubt they think about the employees manufacturing these products at all.  Which is hardly historic.  Do you think the American North in the 1850’s had stores, advertising, ‘These shirts were made from cotton picked by people who were actually paid something’?”  They’d have gone out of business – ‘We can’t compete with unpaid ‘pickers.’  The purchasers, maybe, had momentary qualms, but, you know, if you like a shirt, and you appreciate the low price because of the unpaid ‘pickers’, you think, ‘Let Lincoln worry about the slaves.  I can’t wait to wear this to the Abolitionist Fundraiser.’”

“You read too much.”

“Reading’s my life, outside of the factory.  Depressing work, depressing reading.  A fully integrated existence.”

“You ought to be grateful for this job.  Remember where we came from.  They don’t call it ‘subsistence farming’ for nothing.” 

“‘Subsistence’ was a good year.  Generally, it was plowing and starving.”

“Today – overworked, living in cubicles – it’s ‘heaven.” 

“Okay, so we are ‘Lucky Duck’ factory workers, making … what is this?  You know, half the stuff we manufacture, I have no idea what it’s for.”

What do you mean – Pez dispensers, shaped like Popeye?

“Okay, that one, I ‘get.’  And the  ‘Action Figures’ they sell at fast food restaurants – makes them forgot about what they’re eating.  But it’s the just same ‘form’ with different painted decorations.  ‘I’m a Ninja!’  ‘I’m an astronaut.’  It’s exactly the same toy!  Made from material we’re not supposed to use but they don’t check so we do.”

“Well, this time it’s different.”

“What, this thing?”

“Yes.  This time, it’s meaningful.”

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing – a rectangular piece of cloth, dyed blue?  It’s not exactly the cure for botulism.”

“It’s a washcloth.  People use them to dry off their faces.  This is exciting.  We are in ‘Bathroom Accessories.’”

“That’s ‘exciting’ to you?”

“It’s better than dolls that immediately break when you take them out of the box.  We’ll be around fine towels, soaps and emollients.”

“Where’d you get that word?”

“My sister sells cosmetics at the ‘Flea Market’.”

“What do you think these letters mean on this blue rectangle – “L. A.”?

“’Lovely Accessories.’  I’m proud to make washcloths.  I’ll know, every time someone daubs their faces, I’ve made an important contribution to personal hygiene.”

I don’t know.  They look like washcloths.  But I’m not certain they are.”


FACTORY FOREMAN:  “Less talk.  More ‘rectangles’.”

“Excuse me.  What are we making, please?”

“Those are going to Los Angeles.”


“They are promotional items for baseball games.  The fans wave them over their heads to encourage their players.”

“That’s what we’re making?  Something you wave over your head?” 

“Are you sure they’re not washcloths?”


“Like we’d ever make anything useful.  It’s a ‘Promotional Giveaway.’  When you are done stitching them, they move down the ‘line’ and one of your co-workers stamps Stubhub on them.  And by the way, I am docking you for this conversation.”


“(DEJECTED)  I thought they were washcloths.”

“Sorry.  They’re landfill.”

“Well, at least they’ll get exercise, waving them over their heads.” 
“Always the optimist.’”

“Actually, I was thinking about going back to the country.”



In the bottom of the ninth inning, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner breaks a 1-1 tie with a towering homerun over the centerfield wall, bringing them a dramatic 4-1 playoff victory over the Cubs.

Fifty-six thousand rabid, Dodgers fans (including this chronicler) roar like maniacs, wildly waving their Dodger-Blue, Stubhub "Rally Towels: over their heads.

Hopefully, watching secretly over the Internet, an invigorated Asian factory worker is thinking,

Better than washcloths.  Wait’ll I tell them at work!”

Key To The Process:  I read “Made in China” on the tag of the “Rally Towel, and I was off to the races.

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