Tag Archives: labor


As I’ve written before and will remind in the future, Las Vegas is a metropolis churning with transients. Unlike elsewhere few people are from here. Roots are so shallow hydroponic growths probably have greater depths than the majority of human flesh and emotions calling Las Vegas “home.”

Home. What a loaded word.

For this post’s purposes, let’s just deem home a refuge from the outside world. Which I guess taken to semantic extremes makes a decent percentage of us with mailing addresses here refugees.

Fact is there are refugees here. No. Real live ones. Not to be confused with those in the metaphoric sense.

Cubans are beginning to comprise a loud presence in Las Vegas. Cubans from Cuba itself, not Cubans of Cuban heritage who’ve fled Miami. Funny. Native-born Cubans don’t waste a second bitching about the island’s system. How unlike their thoroughly Americanized cousins, generations removed from Cuba, people who’ve never set foot on the island, knowing only what they know from relatives who bet on the wrong horse in the Batista-Castro Derby.

Listening to them, one might almost believe Fidel still smoked cigars and rolled out hours-long speeches haranguing Western imperialism.

I like the Cubans here in a way I never could’ve the revanchist Caribes back in South Florida or around Metropolitan New York. Rather than immerse themselves among familiarity somewhere along the Eastern Seaboard, these Cubanos struck out to Nevada. Night and day as far as nurturing ease and comfort.

Maybe when their hesitancy and shyness further dissipate (both traits practiced around Americans, loudly joyous among themselves), and we get past nervous cordiality, I can actually plumb what behind their leaps of faith that landed them in Nevada. In any case, as any prospector, no, adventurer could recognize, they’ve gone hell for leather into this strange land.

Compared against most landed Americans, Mexican/Central American migrants, Pacific Islanders who’ve come to Las Vegas to make their score, the Cubans just aren’t going to find satisfaction in 30 years of hotel/casino industry sinecure and homeownership. Naturally, they want those or goals proximate but more as well. The Cubans possess the sharpness and hustle former residents from the Northeast and Industrial Midwest recognize and appreciate.

Those are rarely observed qualities throughout this part of the Intermountain. Given the power/economic structure here, the masses occupying the substantial lower rungs remind of organisms who survive through responding to stimuli. Their next thought will be their first one.

Covid must’ve served as the best means of advance for the less ambitious throughout the Big Mayberry. Employees whose water had found its level at menial jobs suddenly got their minimum wages almost doubled when suddenly desperate employers saw labor shortages draining warm bodies from store counters and market aisles. Thanks to the scourge, mopping spills, stacking boxes, as well as scanning purchases rose from drudgery jobs to essential positions.

Occupying the cat bird seat now, and thoroughly satisfied with current gains, the above workers aren’t bothering to strike while the iron’s hot. Employers must love the contentment and satisfaction their presently overcompensated personnel show. Rather than employees taking the upper hands they have and using them to construct further beneficial nests, bosses await the economic ebbtide that will enable them to claw back the goodies which kept their businesses staffed.

The Cubans, though, they’re putting it all together piecemeal. They have aspirations, surely. Careers as clerks in national chain stores aren’t goals, but steps in the plan. Methodically. After suitable for the moment jobs and housing what’s next here? What’s essential in Nevada? A car.

Sure. Could go out and buy an oxidized hoopty belching oil or coolant fumes. Easy enough. Cheap enough at first if one discounts the imminent headaches and costs inherent in part-swapping repairs and inconvenient breakdowns. Or do as Cubans have done.

Buy the junker that has been labeled unsalvageable by an insurer. Have the forfeited wheels towed back home and parked. Then devote whatever idle time making the heap roadworthy again.

Escaping from a society where manufactured goods are scant when not outright obsolete, they come to our shore knowing how to refurbish or repurpose items. Seeing junked Benzes and Beamers coated under desert dust lined in tow yards to them must be akin to sprinters hearing starters’ pistols.

Oh, wouldn’t it be illuminating to have them share their views of profligate Americans’ easy attitude towards waste?

Over the last several months I’ve watched top of the line cars previous American owners must’ve used to challenge bridge abutments restored. Junkyards have been scoured. Bumpers and quarter panels have either been banged out or replaced. Automobile guts have been delved into and revived part by part. These are not overnight operations. There have been numerous occasions when what ought have worked in theory fails in practice. Okay. These are not deterrents. Just higher hurdles.

Since this is Las Vegas, a place where facile and superficial are highly esteemed, showing up in a flash car can open gates to a lot of possible paths. There are first impressions, then there are subsequent ones from which to project charm. From there it’s easy steps to competency and responsibilities that can enrich.

Landed Americans – black, Anglos, Latinos – demonstrate little of the same initiative. At least in Las Vegas. Perhaps we’ve advanced so far that drive has been bred by plenty at hand out of us. Meticulous planning whose results are rewarded by sometimes hard physical labor must be entries in history books used as doorstops.

Sort of like the opposite of a sculptor who can envision David emerging from a granite block.

Just motoring around Las Vegas neighborhoods or patronizing stores – convenience stores especially – present more examples of sloth than hope.

Not that I do this intentionally while driving, but I can’t fail noticing the inordinate number of vehicles with flat tires. Now, no thanks to the spiritually abandoned (a less brusque label for the two-legged vermin who make parts of urban America abysmal, a k a, the chronically homeless) that find some kind of physic release in smashing bottles on asphalt or clumsy do-it-yourself types who believe picking up screws or nails they’ve dropped beneath them, Las Vegas roads are constant hazards for tires.

In 2013, when I settled in the Mojave Mecca for better or worse, the incessant number of speed bumps made me wonder about opening a front alignment shop. The years since have redirected that thought. If anything, I ought have partnered with some esses. We could’ve opened un negocio de las llantas. And we could’ve fixed flats, too.

All we needed to have done was patch tires to have made a killing. The prevalence of spiky hazards claiming pneumatics here is no joke.

Often, I’ll pass a home whose driveway is crowded with listing cars because the bottom of one or more tire rests pancake flat upon the parking surface. Other times I’ll see a big ol’ pick ‘em up truck stranded against a curb, its owner possibly prostrate with the vapors; so incapacitated he can’t jack up the vehicle, pull the tire off, take that rubber to a repair shop to have it patched then return home for remounting.

Of course, a roadside service technician could perform all that right there. But foresight and the prudence of annually budgeting the pittance necessary to maintain labor saving peace of mind remain unknown to vast segments in this part of the Intermountain. After all, those few dollars could be better spent gambling, buying smokes, or several cans of marked up brew at any nearby convenience store.

Our “American Way” of today.

Our Times

Saw a job listing on a professional networking site that intrigued. Thirty/35 years ago, I would’ve been all over it. Most astonishing thing about the job description? A former high school classmate generated this possibility.

Recalling him, he never struck as being particularly dynamic. He filled backgrounds in many scenes.

Yet two reasons have throttled any enthusiasm towards pursuing his offer. One, I’m 63 and along the glidepath into retirement. Two, I’d bring experience to the job. Continue reading Our Times

Speed Kills … As It Should

In July, barreled down into Northwestern Arizona from Las Vegas. Dropped some coin in barren White Hills playing lottery that’ll help fund the Grand Canyon State’s educational system. Such donations would’ve been better spent here in Nevada. But thanks to the Nevada gaming industry’s dumb insistence lotto dollars will deduct from the Silver State’s games of chance and sports books, Nevadans do not benefit from such participations. Continue reading Speed Kills … As It Should

Elsewhere May Day Is Labor Day

This Covid period among our older populace proves that after a time minds become less pliant. In them views narrow then solidify.

When I hear people, say, at least 14 years my senior, opine, they often remind me of an Allen Ginsberg quote. The poet said: “Our heads are round so thought can change direction.”

Life has squared their noggins.

There must come a period in life when our ability to juggle contrary positions against – or even adapt to – what our minds hold as irrevocable erodes. At one point each of us must’ve been mentally nimble. But as many of us age, our ability to modify or rearrange perception and understanding loses fluidity.

It’s not that those hewing tenaciously to fixed positions are simply stubborn. More like their mental processes have congealed. They just can’t budge.

No need to provoke such people. They’ll erupt without cause. The mantra they spew? “Nobody wants to work anymore.”

Popularly known as “the Silent Generation,” they huddle wedged between former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” and “Baby Boomers.” Arriving just before the Depression then shoved onto the periphery of American memory with the first birth of 1946, too few members of this cohort left an impression on our national scene. Also, the calamities that occurred between the years 1929-1945 made prospective parents wary about bringing or being able to afford having children. Their aggregate was lower than the two generations sandwiching them.

Though the Depression and World War II were nowhere near as formative to them as it was upon the participants and combatants, both events nevertheless left imprints. Here in the economically poleaxed America of the1930s and wartime’s Fortress of Democracy, daily life must’ve been maintained at some levels of precariousness.

Each era embedded its own worries upon the still forming.

Unless one’s background affluent during the Depression, want was a constant threat. A job which sustained home and hearth week after week was no certainty. And unlike today, the safety net, if one existed, consisted of savings, family, and perhaps friends. Compared to now, government programs that helped citizens tide over rough patches were meager as well as sparse.

Doubtlessly parents one pay envelope away from being up against it discussed finances in the most sotto tones. Nonetheless careful as they must have been, that sort of constant stress must’ve also reached then affected young minds.

And while the war that broke out among the Europeans in September 1939 was a topic that could be bandied at intellectual remove, Pearl Harbor two years later became a realer than real matter of survival. The Depression’s threat of possible imminent destitution might be diverted through a head down, no boat rocking posture coupled with an “it could be worse” attitude which made them grateful to possess what they had.

The December 7th, 1941, attack became a life and death matter.

Two oceans aside, wolves threatened Americans’ doors. The vast watery expanses which had kept America remote from most global conflicts were by 1941 capable of being crossed by all sorts of weapons. What had been viewed while watching movie theaters’ newsreels – cities obliterated from the air, columns of grim jackbooted troops intent on carnage – now offered foretastes of what America might’ve shared with Europe or Asia.

Easy to imagine that after Pearl Harbor no American regarded fates similar to Rotterdam or Shanghai visiting these shores as “improbable.” At least initially, conversation based on war topics were undoubtedly debated between disbelief and hysteria.

Although dementia and death have substantially reduced those then present as WWII adults, that there was possibly an undercurrent of defeatism during the global conflict’s first disastrous months is difficult to deny. It’s just the sort of thing children can absorb though can’t properly articulate sufficiently in order to have parents explain. Or dispel.

Maybe it becomes a thing that weighs adolescents who enter their teens before becoming adults; that inexplicable thing they unconsciously drag with them through life.

A benefit from Covid is it’s loosened the shackles of American workers. That’s given them leverage against bosses. Terrific!

On one hand, the worker shortage, created from retirements, deaths, and searches for better, stems directly from the disease.

The first a realization by long-time employees they’d gotten to points of simply living to work rather than working to live. Why drop dead at one’s place of employment or linger a few post-retirement years in pain and regret? If the necessary years had accrued – even if the total short – why not abandon that toil and enjoy what remained of life while it still possible?

The second, a factor way too few Americans grasp or want to, is a good number of working people succumbed to Covid. To them, their families, friends, it wasn’t a hoax. Covid wasn’t just jumped-up flu.

Despite the best efforts of right-wing barking heads and jackleg screamers to slander every patient overwhelming ICUs and hospital staffs, sufferers filling wards and providing care in them weren’t crisis actors. For awhile rumors circulated that at my own job Covid claimed one co-worker a week. Of course confidentiality rules and HR doing its utmost to protect the company blunted ascertaining whether this fact or not.

Third, the first two Covid conditions created mobility. Countless current workers are exploiting this last opening. A circumstance anyone constitutionally timid finds adverse.

A worker shortage meant dead-end, low-wage positions, and peonage treatment could be dumped for perhaps more satisfying, higher paying labor where supervisors aware the worm has turned keep their tyrant conduct in check.

That’s what “the Silent Generation” means when it erroneously states “Nobody wants to work anymore.” They’re angered that it appears nobody wants to work as they once did.

Fearful of losing jobs they were grateful to have even if it meant being humiliated throughout a career. For far too many laboring Americans that was the take-it-or-leave-it pact until Covid.

Current attitudes spreading regarding how one’s daily bread is earned reflects badly on “the Silent Generation.” They put up with shit because in return for a comfortable living standard made possible through a decent salary, benefits, and pensions, the boss could release his inner Attila the Hun on them at will. Rotten management will never hide its contempt for the cogs. Before Covid, underlings could be replaced as easily as getting a fresh tissue after soiling the previous sheet.

Then, even getting raises could’ve grown into ordeals. Despite workplace performances justifying the bump how often had the process transformed productive employees into nearly on their knees supplicants?

We may suppose “the Silent Generation” invented some nobility about enduring these trials. We may also suppose them seeing a new generation come along and blithely chucking the old nature for new measures somehow tarnishes whatever glory had shined jobs offering two-weeks-a year vacation.

No Rainbow. No Pot of Gold.

California is not sending it best people across the Mojave Desert into Nevada. Not visitors, necessarily, but those hopefuls intending to relocate.

For the most part, Californians flocking from the Golden State to settle in the Mojave aren’t the most sterling. Once here a sad portion of them tarnish the Silver State. Continue reading No Rainbow. No Pot of Gold.