January 30, 2008
There oughta be a law ...
It was 12 degrees Wednesday afternoon as I drove down Durand Avenue. The wind chill was about 5 degrees below zero, according to the weather guy on the radio. Even sitting in a warm car, wearing parka, mittens and knit cap, I felt cold.
Until, that is, I drove by Liberty Tax Service, which thoughtfully let me know that my life -- whatever its problems -- could be worse. Much worse.
There, near Lathrop, were three versions of the Statue of Liberty, waving, to remind one and all that state and federal income taxes need to be paid soon.
One of the reminders was made of snow, maybe six feet tall. As snow sculptures go, it was nicely done, although tarted up with two sandwich boards promoting the tax preparation service. I wondered who holds the trademark on Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi's magnificent statue, presented to the country by France in 1886 to commemorate our 100th anniversary. I suppose the statute of limitations has expired, get over it.
But it was the other two that concerned me. Wearing green costumes were two very nice women, Marilyn Grayson and Linda Johnson. Eleven kids between them; otherwise unemployed, they told me. Standing outside in -5 degree wind chill, dressed however warmly one can be in heavily layered costumes, gloves, hats and so on, waving and smiling.
For $7 an hour.
They've signed on for the duration; Marilyn until April, Linda until Feb. 20. Four hours a day, with breaks every 15 minutes.
I talked to them for less than five minutes; it took my fingers twice that to stop tingling once I got back in the car.
When I drove by the corner an hour later, the temperature had dropped to 7 degrees. Wind chill, presumably, was about 10 degrees below zero. Linda was gone but Marilyn was still there. Waving.
For $7 an hour.
Until common sense prevails, and workers with no choice have better alternatives, or more humane schedules, I'll do my own taxes, thanks.