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  • Writer's pictureCassie Stockamp

Oh dear god...

So yesterday a fellow college age co-worker at the liquor store (Yes, I’m a job hopper following the allure of big bucks from generous tippers to whom I deliver liquor. I know, I know - a yogi delivering liquor... One of my kids teases me incessantly, and my reply is always, “It’s a pandemic....”) and I were chatting about the various flavored liquor bottles displayed behind the counter. He told me that Fireball Whiskey is banned in many EU countries because it contains some of the same chemicals used in anti-freeze. WHAT??? I literally exclaimed, “Oh dear god....”, and with that he pulled the Jägermeister bottle off the shelf and showed me that the label literally depicts “O Deer God.” Still chuckling...

What I LOVE about this job is that I’m back on my bike commuting 26 miles round trip! I had forgotten the intentionality that comes from spinning the pedals... The mind is free to wonder and the small details of the daily commute become memorized: the parts of the trail with small patches of scattered stones the remnants of completed construction projects, the random bends around grown trees, the criss crossing of the trail from one side of the road to the other, navigating 7 roundabouts....

And time to notice. The walls. The gated communities. I ride by the Latino workers that are tuck-pointing and making repairs to the walls that block off the large homes from me. From you. From the workers repairing the walls. From the other. How does this happen? I can only imagine that the home owners believe they are doing the right thing for their families - protecting them from the dangers that lurk at night. But how does this come into being...? Are we all asking ourselves these questions now? I can only hope.

And delivering liquor to the estates in Carmel often leaves me shaking my head.... I know many people have worked really hard to achieve financial success, and not all of them are white, but the VAST majority are. As I drive, my mind wonders if there’s been an expanded awareness because of all the uprising to an understanding of the leg up given for having been born white? When is enough, enough? What continues to drive people to increase their balance sheet? To what end? And I know many of them are very philanthropic, and yet if that were the real motivation....? Do they think others are deserving of more? So many questions about distribution (or the lack thereof) of wealth... Do they understand the opportunities given to us simply because of a culture we’ve created to give us white people a leg up? Do I?

While in South America I read, “The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey” by Che Guevara. Che was an Argentine Marxist, physician, author, guerrilla leader, military leader, diplomat and the face of social justice. He was revered and hated... The book was written in his early years and the motorcycle journey helped to form his beliefs and his staunch support of the worker. I’m starting to get it.

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” - Che Guevara

The profits that are derived from the backs of the workers are, well, obvious and yet more and more difficult for me to witness from my hourly position. I’ve been told that these positions should propel the worker to want more, to get a better education to better oneself... The common rhetoric. What about the person whose intellect may not allow for much more? For the person that has never had a role model and doesn’t have a clue as to how to move up in the world? What about the man that came from Ghana to play ball or the assistant manger that shows up every day on time and works hard, but has never been on an airplane? What about the person that came from rural Indiana and is still living with parents and the next big step is to find an apartment and move out and yet gets stuck as the process feels overwhelming to a young man that suffered emotional abuse throughout his childhood. Are these people not worthy of a living wage?

And not to mention just sheer exhaustion. How does one find the energy to go back to school or look for another job when after work you have to feed a family, do laundry, oversee homework, pay bills - and that was all before the strain of Covid - on an hourly wage.... I know some are able to “pull themselves up from their bootstraps and better themselves”, but now that I am living and seeing the world from this vantage point, I am in awe of those that are merely able to live. To survive with any meaning takes a huge effort. This chapter of my life is molding me and giving me empathy for something more....

Oh dear god...

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