I Don't Want to Work, I Want to Bang on The Drum All Day
Topic: "Give Us Your Tired. . ."
When Frodo was very small he first heard the term "migrant worker." Over time he learned that people from foreign lands came to the Shire to pick apples. That was just after they picked lettuce to the south, and before they picked cranberries to the north. Through the window from his seat in the rear of the motorcar piloted by his father Frodo saw the buildings, most often empty, where the "migrant worker" lived while they picked apples in the Shire. Frodo never remembers making any contact with them, so Frodo never knew whether they were happy, or sad, or if they even liked apples.
One evening while television was still new, and a projection in various shades of gray, Frodo saw a special report on the "migrant worker," and if memory serves him correctly it was called "Harvest of Shame." Frodo didn't have anything to be ashamed of, but he did recognize that some of the people in the report were from the same strange-sounding places as the people he had seen through the window from the back seat of his father's motorcar.
Now, many years later, Frodo hears different words applied to people from strange-sounding places who seemingly arrive as if by magic in lots of communities to do all kinds of work. These people are pulling the feathers off of chickens, and they are pounding nails into the roofs of homes under construction. These people are cleaning bathrooms in motels, and they are working in furniture factories. Some of them are also picking apples, grapes, oranges, tomatoes, and some of them do something different every day.
Frodo has often wondered if those people he saw through the window from the back seat of his father's motorcar were "illegal aliens?" Frodo always believed that his father would never tolerate anything illegal, so he has always been sure that "illegal aliens" is a relatively recent invention. "Probably," he thought, "the illegal aliens saw the 'migrant worker' come back to their homes in those strange-sounding places with lots of money and wonderful stories of how nice people were in the Shire."
Frodo's friend Boromir is very talented in ways that Frodo cannot imagine. When Boromir finished his work at Mount Doom, he decided to apply those talents to a new living. For a while Boromir would buy old houses, fix them up, and sell them. He could do all of the work involved, but all alone it took him a long time. Frodo is unable to this day to convince a nail to enter into the wood on a straight plane, so he was not of assistance to his friend. Boromir placed ads in newspapers for helpers, but no one applied. Finally, he noticed the "day laborers" who gathered in the city square each day. In desperation he asked if any of them wanted to work with him. No one spoke English. In a mixture of sign language and shouting Boromir was able to strike a deal with one of the "day laborers," to be paid by the hour in cash. That meant that the "day laborers" would not have to account to any government to be taxed on what he earned while working for Boromir.
Boromir had no choice. He needed the help, and he had no one else willing to assist him. Each day, the routine was the same and the "day laborers," generally a different guy each day, would work hard all day, do a good job, and then go his own way.
Boromir sought out his friend Frodo, because he knew that the rules were being broken. He asked Frodo if what he was doing was truly wrong. Frodo knew that the "day laborers" were probably the "illegal immigrants" of which he had heard. He knew now that individually they were the "migrant worker" he had seen out of the window from the back seat of his father's motorcar. Frodo knew that Boromir was torn by virtue and by necessity.
Many believe that Boromir is the problem, and that he should not engage "illegal immigrants" at any juncture. Frodo believes that people who think that way do not have any apples to be picked.
Many believe that Boromir should pay higher wages and thereby more easily find legal workers. Frodo believes that people who think that way do not worry about having enough money to pay what was promised.
Boromir eventually gave up his enterprise. The "day laborers" still gather in the city square, and apples hang from the trees in the Shire. In a strange-sounding place a newborn enters the world, and someone who looks a lot like Frodo peers out of the window from the back seat of his father's motorcar.
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