Tag Archives: immigrants

Remember the Poor Immigrant

5 Mar

A zip-lock bag with a small rock inside for weight was tossed onto my lawn today. In my neighborhood, this is a standard method of advertising lawn services. What was not so standard was the pamphlet inside, which in part read: “Teofilo Sanchez Landscaping.”

I have friends who argue that immigrants, both legal and illegal, are a drain on taxes and the economy. While I really don’t know anything for sure, I always argue back that immigrants, legal and illegal, will provide the boost we need to restart our economy, and that they will become the next great wave of entrepreneurs.

It seems to me that it doesn’t take too long before a hired lawn guy earning minimum wage (or less) realizes that if he saves enough money for a mower and a truck, he can be the boss.

For all I know, Teofilo Sanchez is a Fortune 500 exec whose family came across on the Mayflower. But I will assume he is not. I will assume he is part of the new wave. I will assume that my theory (which required no insight or imagination) is coming true. I will assume that more and more marketing will target this new demographic, that the people in it will buy more houses and cars, that more will enter college, become wealthy, enter politics and lead.

This story has been repeated so many times it is a cliché. Why then is it so difficult to remember?

How hungry do you have to be?

8 Feb


“The Gleaners,” by Jean-Francois Millet

I heard a little – not much – about a gleaner movement where volunteers seek permission from farmers to glean fruit and vegetables from fields, then use what they harvest to feed the hungry.

When I learned about the movement, my grandfather came to mind.

He was an immigrant, and his own gleaner. If he passed a fruit tree where apples were left on the ground, he would walk up to the door of the house and ask if he could have them. The gleaned food was in addition to what he grew in his own garden.

His son, my father, with disgust for modern life, once told me his father “fed his family on less than you spend today for paper towels.”

My grandfather was a proud, ingenious man who felt no shame in gleaning what would otherwise be wasted. If I were hungry – and I doubt he ever was – I’m not sure which I would find less tasteful: gleaning for myself or having others glean for me.

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