Dedicated to all those men and woman working in Shenzhen, China and the people in the United States who can’t find work.
There is an 8 x 12 room with 4 beds stacked one on top of the other. There is a small round thick pillow on the floor next to the bottom bunk. No, this is not a prison.
The man on the top bunk yells, “one” then rolls over. He rolls to the edge, does a stomach crunch putting each hand behind his head, and then turns one last time into the air. Those below him hear him hit the pillow. He has perfected the fall. Two seconds later anther man yells “Two” and rolls over. Again the same sound, a man hitting below. This goes on until number four rolls out of his bed. Two years ago the Ministry of Efficiency took away the stairs that led to each bunk. Based on their innumerable hours of research, it was decided a pillow at the bottom of the bed was cheaper than stairs and saved forty-five seconds of time for each worker. Only .1 percent are inclined to miss the pillow.
The men walk together out their room where others join them. All are headed to the bathroom where they take their place. As if in perfect synchronicity they drop their pants, wash their private parts, rinse their face, brush their teeth, then get dressed. Next, they go to the cafeteria where they are joined by more men and women. The noise in the cafeteria is a loud buzz. Some men sit next to their wives where they eat and talk about their kids. Their kids do not live with them. They are lucky if they get to see their kids once a year.
They eat and then they are off to work. Once they arrive at the factory they do a series of exercises to prepare them for the twelve-hour shift yet to come. A bell sounds. One crew walks off the floor and another walks on. Each man and woman goes to his or her station. No one sits. They pick up their tools and start working. They are putting glass screens on smart phones. They have been doing this task for the last twelve months.
Managers walk around the floor whispering into the workers ears. “1 5, 8.” The workers know what these numbers mean. They’re falling behind. They work hard to catch up but have been doing this job, the same job, for a year. Their hands and fingers shake but they can’t quit. Where they came from is worse than where they are.
Four thousand men and woman are working. And, when their bones start to fall in pools, they will be swept aside to make way for the new, soon to be old.