Today, I am saluting the “ordinary” America. Because, it’s extraordinary.
(People who copy the “American” lifestyle — copy this America. This real America.)
It’s ten degrees Celsius below zero in New York. Here in the U.S., we use Fahrenheit: it’s about 15 degrees F. It’s extremely, bitterly cold. It is dangerously cold. Without the proper protections — layers of warm clothing and scarve and woolen cap and warm gloves, etc., you could die. In fact, without them, you would die. Just the same way, poor, homeless people are dying on the frigid streets of Delhi, Darjeeling or Dhaka.
And it’s not even snowing (snow is on the ground only in some places in Long Island: thanks to global warming, we’ve been having a less brutal winter for the past few years). It’s brightly sunny, coupled with a frigid chill breezing down from North Pole. For people who never experienced it, real snow — like rain — happens when the sky is overcast, and that cloud cover makes it less cold. A sunny day with a Northerly “wind chill,” it becomes even more severe. Today is one of those very, very cold days.
The weatherman gleefully announced on the morning TV: “The wind chill temperature is near zero.” That is, zero degree Fahrenheit.
Yet, the extraordinarily thing is that: all the ordinary people are working — on time. Little children are going to school. As the picture above shows, volunteer “school crossing guards” who carefully help the school kids cross the street are in attendance, on time. They show up to work — voluntarily — at 7 A.M. School buses pick up the kids around 7.30 A.M. In New York City, bigger school kids do not have the privilege of the yellow school bus: they travel on their own (like the kid shown on the photo above). They are all up, on time, to attend their middle school or high school. Primary school children wait patiently with their parents on the street — for the yellow bus.
Parents who work outside wait until the bus picks up the kid, before they walk to the nearest subway station to catch the communter train; or, they start their car and wait for a few minutes to warm up the engine. Parents who work inside wait until the bus picks up the kid, before they walk back home to start working a full day — cooking, cleaning, or even shoveling snow. Mothers work round the clock — rain or shine, snow or sleet. (Sleet is…well..you look it up. Bad stuff.)
The work-a-day life is in full swing. This is the brave, working spirit of America, and I salute it.
I came to work and it was 100 percent attendance. Nobody missed work because of the bitter, severe cold.
Last night, it was even colder than today. Temperature dropped to perhaps 10 degrees Fahrenheit. I took my car on my way back from work to a garage (car shop). Had to wait for a couple of hours before they could order in a new fan belt and install it. I saw all the workers working in full swing, defying the cold. Inside the garage, it was not as fully heated as your home; garage doors were pulling up and down frequently as customers and workers were coming in and out frequently. Frigid air was blowing in (I remembered last year my wife and I were waiting at a first class waiting room at Haridwar train station, it was frigid, and the faulty door of the first class waiting room would not shut tight, and we were shivering even after wrapping us up with a blanket).
I am not posting a photo from the car garage here because the workers are poor and mostly undocumented; they do not make much money (most of the money they make go to the shop owner’s pocket anyways). And they must work to feed the family and send some money home. I was awestruck to see the level or work ethics.
Who said the “illegal alien” is only here in America to rip off the country? Come here and see for yourself: they are MAKING the economy, not breaking it.
This morning, on my way to work, I took the subway train as my car was waiting to be worked on at the garage. I took the G train. I saw American workers already up and running: some of them were already working on the Gowanus bridge station they’re putting back together. These guys must have been there at 6 A.M. Based on my own experience with some of these workers, I know some of them leave home at 4.30 or 5 A.M. to get to their work place at 7 or 8.
Four thirty or five in the morning when the outside temperature is perhaps fifteen degrees below zero, these ordinary workers — men and women — are ready to go to work. Would you like to be in their shoes? Do it. Try it at least once in your life.
Ordinary American workers? If they are ordinary, who is extraordinary?
Just think. It’s even hard to think at -10 degrees Celsius. Just try.
(And…for those out there…people who copy the “American” lifestyle — copy this America. This real America.)
Brooklyn, New York