Continued from last week as our intrepid factory worker tries to shop local at the farmers’ market …
Buy a few bunches of carrots (your kid loves carrots). Ask for a bag because you’re not going to be able to carry 3 rubber-banded bunches of carrots home on the bus. “Yes, we do have plastic bags. Do you know about the Pacific garbage patch?” Promise yourself to scrape up the $8 needed to purchase reusable bags for next week. Tote produce back to workplace in non-sanctioned plastic bags. Stuff the food into your employee locker. Hope it won’t wilt from the heat.
Dingdingdingding – you get a break! Since everyone had to work through lunch, your shift is ahead of the production schedule. Clock out 15 minutes early, at 5:15. Gather up your bags of produce and run like mad for the bus … usually you take the 5:40, but you might make the 5:20.
Out of breath from the run, watch the ass-end of the 5:20 round the corner towards home. Stand and wait for the 5:40. There are no benches (they only encourage loitering). Your arms are tired, but often you see used syringes on the ground near the bus stop, so you don’t put your groceries down.
Arrive at the school with 30 seconds to spare before aftercare overtime fees start.
You and your kid wait 10 minutes for the bus home. Ride the bus 30 minutes.
Arrive at home and start your daughter on homework. Do a time check – it’s almost 7:30. She needs to be bathed and in bed by 9:00 at the latest. Budget 2 hours after her bedtime to devote to piecework brought home from the factory earlier in the week.
Every item inspected is worth 50 cents. Figure you can knock out 120 in two hours. It means you won’t get much sleep but $60 under the table will buy a lot of groceries. If you can bring in 120 pieces completed by tomorrow, the foreman says he’ll let you take piecework home on the weekends.
If you work all weekend you’ll have enough money to buy your bus pass for the month, plus pay your child’s aftercare fees for the month.
Put two small potatoes in the oven. Open cupboard and survey the options. Quinoa – you could cook it up with some canned corn and use up that red pepper from last week that looks like it’s on its last legs. Remember that your kid will eat that dish only if you include shredded carrots.
As you’re trying to decide whether you have time to shred the carrots, your daughter flings her pencil down and wails “I don’t get it! How are you supposed to know which number to start with when you divide?”
Pull up a chair next to your kid and help her puzzle out long division. This girl will get to college if it’s the last thing you do. She won’t be working a factory job, on her feet 10 hours a day if you can help it.
It’s now after 8:00. Your daughter is starting to get that pinched look around her eyes that means she’s about done. And, still, she hasn’t eaten dinner. If you cook the quinoa she’ll be up too late. Get another PBJ into her. She inhales it and asks for cereal. She has been bottomless lately – she must be ready for a growth spurt. Give her a bowl of cereal and send her off to take her bath. The potatoes will have to keep for another night.
11:30. Finish the last of the piecework and stumble into the shower. You had been meaning to cook up a batch of quinoa and another batch of vegetable soup, like the lady at WIC recommended (“Just cook batches in the evenings or on the weekend and then you’ll have healthy stuff to eat all week! Easy!”) but it’s not going to happen tonight. 5:30 seems like it’s just around the corner.