Oscar and The Minimum Wage

I woke up this morning earlier than I’d planned on account of Oscar who was grinding an iron beam in half about 75’ from my window, on the other side of a 5’ high hollow cinderblock wall, which resonated with and amplified the higher range of frequencies.

“What the fuck are you doing at 6:AM on Saturday morning, Oscar.”

“What do you mean?”

Oscar is the middle-aged ex-Guatamalan jack-of-all who works for Fred in return for half a house opposite the Falafel take-out next door.

“You’re not stupid, Oscar. You know what I mean, don’t you.”

“It’s my job, I got to work, man.”

“You don’t got to do this at 6:AM and it’s illegal. You know that.”

“My boss wants me to do it now.”

“Does Fred want me to call the cops who will shut you down and fine him?”

No response.

“OK. Stop the noise and don’t do it again because next time, I’m calling the cops.”

Fred, by the way, is the owner of the trailer park where I live and he also owns Falafel King, which is where Oscar was fabricating an illegal addition to the dumpster enclosure, possibly doing it on the weekend so the building code people who he paid off don’t get blamed. When these incompetents are working at all, they never do it on weekends. According to Oscar, they’re all uneducated, hired with a GED and given 3 months training to inspect the work of structural contractors. You want to understand failed levees and bridges that fall?

The other thing that Oscar told me is that businesses here in Santa Maria don’t pay minimum wages, not in the fields, not in the stores, nowhere, not to mention health care, retirement or any of that other good shit that was the norm about 20 years ago. He says he works 40hrs a week on a  job that pays $450/week but it’s really 65hrs a week. Do the math. Oscar’s no rocket scientist but he’s bright enough to know that’s $7.50 an hour before taxes, and he’s driving a big truck on this job, so much for the teamsters, so much for Cesar Chavez. This is a whole new century.

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