A tribute to the anonymous Worker

A young mill worker, unknown city in the Unite...
Image via Wikipedia

Before I tell you this story, before I pay my tribute to the anonymous Worker, I must make clear that I’m not a Communist. I have no political affiliation whatsoever and I suppose I’ll never have, until there comes a political genius, with the ability to solve all the issues in “It’s so difficult to rule the world”. No. I want only to praise all those beautiful, extraordinary people that, anonymously, make this world go round, day by day, with their effort and, many times, sacrifice. All those, to whom every word could count (and does) and… I wish I could help each and every Charlie of this life!
I must say also that this is not my story. My story has much in common with this one, but also many differences.

Charlie was a good boy. Raised with love, he was gentle and cared about the people around him. He liked to study, but he had to leave school at age sixteen, because his parents couldn’t afford to keep him studying any longer. He found a job in a production line – a huge factory that supplied materials to several stores. At the beginning, Charlie felt enthusiasm and happiness, because he was working and supporting his family, who lived with so many difficulties. Years went by…
Charlie met a girl. They married and had their babies. Years went by…

And Charlie stood there, faithful to his workplace, loyal to his employers. He was good, dedicated and always tried his best. He worked more hours than he was contracted to, just to get his work finished. He always smiled, and was thrilled to help everybody else. He did everything, he knew where everything was, he was the first to come and the last to go. No-one ever noticed Charlie. No-one ever smiled to him, no-one ever said thank you (coming from the heart), no-one ever said “Good morning!” or “See you tomorrow, Charlie!” Many people didn’t even know his name.
Years went by…

Charlie’s trousers are torn. The soles of his shoes are broken – there is no money to buy new ones. His jacket is old, worn out for so many times being washed: unstitched in the edges. The gloves, that he uses to protect his hands, are ragged. Charlie’s hands, frozen; their skin, dry and cracked, from so many times passing from the heat to the cold and from the cold to the heat. The fingertips bleed, with broken, colourless nails. His face ages, little by little. The eyes deepen, dark rings around them, of tiredness. He can no longer see very well – the green becomes blue. “Keep working! You still have five to do!” Five, in hundred, how much is that?… His feet burn; three thousand and four hundred steps a day. They get water blisters and fungus, in those combat shoes. “Why do you walk so slowly?” “I’m going to make a race with you…” “You might as well race me. You don’t do this all day, all week, all month, all year, all life…” The hunger contracts his stomach, his hands and legs start shaking. “Four hours are gone… I need a break!” “What are you talking about? You can go only when everybody else comes back!” But… “It’s my right!” “No! You can’t!” When the break finally comes, bread and butter – with the Minimum Wage and a family to support, can’t be much more than that.

Charlie makes his parts, barehanded. Hundreds, thousands of times… Twist and turn. The wrist hurts – effort trauma. It hurts so much that he almost can’t move his hand. Charlie goes to the GP. The doctor gives him painkillers – no treatment. “Oh, don’t worry! It will disappear…” Shall it? “Why were you absent from work?” I hurt my wrist… My child is ill… My father died… “You cannot be absent from work!” Disciplinary meeting. “If you are absent from work once more, you’ll be sacked!” His son breaks his head. He has a fever. And there Charlie is, with his heart in his hands, crying and working, crying and working. “Be happy that you have a job!”
Silence. The machines stopped. How strange, how spooky is this silence.

One day, Charlie asks for retirement – he needs to give medical evidence to get it! And he leaves the factory for the last time, with the knapsack on his back, a sad look in his eyes. No-one even bothers to tell him goodbye…

Wise Old Man
Image by TeeJe via Flickr
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