Sometimes in our effort to stand tall in the midst of a sea of giants, we tend to pick out what and who we perceive to be our smallest and weakest. This is why I chose to speak out about our inhumanity to one another.
There was an incident that happened in my office that made me recognize the need to expose our mistreatment of one another as proof that the powers that be [the giants] have succeeded in their system of division and suppression of our minds and influence of our actions.
A few years ago, the corporation that I work for(stating it’s name is unnecessary because they all basically do the same things) advised us (it’s workers) that they would no longer supply us with bottled water. Instead they put water fountains in the hallways. They never took into consideration (perhaps they did but decided that the value of human life was not as valuable to them as the amount of money that they would save, similar to the strategy of BP) that we are two and three levels below ground and right next to the rebuilding of the World Trade Center Towers. The constant smell of the Hudson River and when it rains the constant smell of the waste and the Hudson are obvious reminders that no matter how pretty they make it look, we are still in the bowels of Manhattan. I said then that we should fight this decision. Water is basic. Confidence in clean water is indispensable. How would this change [in where we access our water from] alter how often we drank water? Well no one wanted to take on this fight, instead we started a Water Club-purchasing our own water by contributing a certain amount (7 dollars for us) a month. This seemingly went along okay for those who chose to participate. For those who didn’t want to pay for their own water while they sat working on the corporation’s Property, talking to their customers until parched, were never monitored as to how their water drinking habits were or were not altered and were never asked. Not drinking enough water can become a medical problem for some. I have never been much of a water drinker, but as I age, I understand that I must drink water so I chose to participate in the Water Club so that I could help keep something so essential to everyone that I worked with, essentially easy accessible to everyone. For those who chose not to pay for something that they and I believe should have been supplied by the corporation, I concur, and would never deny them access to the water that the Water Club kept in the office. There was plenty of water, because all of those who paid for it could not drink it all. There were and are days that I forget or get so busy that I don’t get a chance to get water. There are days that I am not there to get water. And as I stated before, water is basic. But for the days that I and others in the Water Club did not drink the water, no one came and offered nor did I request a rebate for those days. In addition no one requested or charged any of the Water Club members, including him, any additional monies for those who drank water and were not a member of the Water Club. The fee was still 7 dollars[$7.00] a month.
Just as with BP, a crisis occurred, a flood happened, water from the Hudson and raw sewage water rained down from the ceilings. Just like BP, the managers bought in fans and said the next day it was safe to return. Four days later (fans still blowing) we found it was not safe. Bacteria from raw sewage (being constantly blown) was in the air. All those who were drinking from the exposed water fountain were getting additional risks of contamination. We were moved to another floor until the clean-up was completed.
But in the midst of the crisis we somehow managed to gain a Water Police. We didn’t have an election nor was there a notice posted. He decided we needed one and he had the best qualifications for the job-PETTINESS. This is a person who never challenged the decision made by the corporation, but wants to police who is a member of the Water Club and do they really deserve to get a cup of water. This is a person who is not a steward where he can monitor what management does, but quickly became adept at monitoring his fellow union members drinking of what became his water.
When we step out of humanity into acting inhumanly, nostrils flaring with indignation at the revelation that I hadn’t paid for water since November(because the collector hadn’t collected yet as they have always done with me), that I was stealing water and threatened to call Security on me. In doing so he is also assuming that when the collector collects, that I would refuse to pay or that the collector had complicity in my stealing water. I then realized that he had a hole in his soul. He wanted to bend me to his will and when he couldn’t, he threatened me with a report to Security. Me who he had nothing to gain from, I don’t employ him, I don’t pay him, give him benefits or job security, but he chose me to challenge. I can’t offer him a pension, medical benefits or any retirement packages, but he chose to challenge me because he saw me as small and weak and decided that is where his attack should take place not with the corporation who denied him conveniently accessible water.
I am here to tell you that we have a much bigger task at hand. For when he chose me to fight, I who am his sister in union, I who could and would stand up for him and union, he showed me that he had no commonality with me. He chose to disrespect and abuse me as if I were the enemy. I realized that my job as a union member and our purpose as union members has not been defined, nurtured, and implemented in a way that serves our cause. I who wanted the corporation to not only give me clean and safe water while I am doing their work, but him also. I know that I deserve to be treated with respect because not only am I a human being but I am an American citizen as he is also, living under the American Constitution. In the Preamble to the Constitution it states in order to promote the general welfare to ourselves(we the people). That general welfare to me includes clean and easily accessable water for him and I and anyone who is there doing a job. If 7 dollars[$7.00] is a hardship for him while working for this corporation or any employer, I am not the problem. The Preamble to the Constitution speaks about securing our Liberty and Prosperity. We have work to do.
If we do not understand as of yet that we are our brother’s keeper, we have a lot of work to do…. so let’s get started.