Four years earlier.
I-80 runs from New Jersey to Oregon. All that land in between. Cornfields and soy. Monsanto owns this part of the world. I travel through Indiana into Ohio down to Youngstown. Sleeping in my Ford outside of day labor places where men are picked for various jobs. I awake before the sun rises to stand in line with black and brown men. Some speaking in Spanish and others cursing their lives in urban street talk. I always stand at the front of the line hoping to get picked first. And, I do. I hear mumblings of men saying, white privilege. I keep my mouth shut. I need a buck like everyone else.
The assignments are handed out. Some will be working on beer trucks; loading and unloading kegs and cases while drivers talk on their phones and smoke cigarettes. There are those who will work on the backs of garbage trucks; emptying cans and dumpsters where some sleep over night. Many will work in factories on assembly lines or clean-up crews. It is the lowest of the paying jobs. Minimum wage. And, if you hurt yourself, you are not covered by anything other than what you have in your pocket.
I get chosen to work on the beer trucks. My muscles ache each morning. I stretch before others show up in line. My forty-two year old gut hurts from the daily lifting and carrying of beer. Bottles, cans, kegs, all stacked in liquor stores and basements of bars across America. This is my job. I’m a laborer with a college degree in English. Moving from town to town, waiting in line with men who maybe never had a shot in life. Never had a chance in these United States. Land of opportunity indeed.
In Chicago I worked the beer trucks. Slept in my truck under a sign on Halsted saying, Fresh Killed Lamb. And the lamb was fresh killed for you and me. For the drunks and junkies sleeping behind buildings on West Randolph. For Mexicans singing along to music as they wait to work; bringing dollars home to family; all sharing a two bedroom apartment in Pilsen, Logan Square, Bucktown, the Northside, where ever they can find cheap rent; asking no one to solve their problems, they solve them.
The fresh killed lamb. Son of God. Keeping his eyes on us all. Giving hope where there is none through word and song. It is this belief I cling to. For I am a sinner. In need of salvation. All of us in the line are sinners. And those in office buildings, those at home taking care of kids, country club members with cocktails in hand, the tax man, the theif, whores in the street, we all pray to the fresh killed lamb.