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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Friday's Good and Bad

Yesterday Dawn joined me for the Good Friday Walk for Justice downtown. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers led a station about justice for immigrant workers in English and Spanish. I was hoping Dawn would show it to her dad. Even though CIW is about farmworkers and her dad is a welder, I'm pretty sure he would want to hear about what they are doing to organize. Julian, Sr.'s factory was bought out by new owners who want to get lean and mean compared to the old guys. The old guys were no prize, either, if you recall from last year's immigration march hoo-hah at the factory. Rather than make you hunt down the post, I'll quote a bit from March 2006:

The good news about the march was that somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 people showed up. Now here's the bad news. Dawn's dad may be getting fired over it. He and all the other folks working at the factory went Friday, despite being told Thursday night that anyone who went would get the axe.

No one has received official termination letters yet. It sounds like the official company staff, including Dawn's dad, may be able to stay on, but the company wants to dump the day labor folks who were working there and chose to march. The company employees are saying they won't stay unless everyone gets their jobs back. ... It was pretty rough sitting with Dawn and her parents on folding chairs and large buckets in their new house, with dust all over the floor and white paint drying on the walls, wondering whether they're going to be able to make the mortgage payments.

That time, thanks to lots of media and help from Interfaith Worker Justice, they all got their jobs back and won back pay for their week off.

The new management, from California, is used to squeezing its labor force with lower wages than what is standard in Chicago. So far Julian has not been forced to take a pay cut, but they are making him work more hours and they are swinging his shift around, which is hell on a person's sleep cycle and health. Their contact from Interfaith Worker Justice is on vacation.

So the good in Good Friday was going to the walk and seeing lots of people. Dawn got to meet my friend Kathy Kelly and lots of other peace activists. Dawn seemed pretty interested and engaged, especially given I didn't know what she would make of a group of mostly old white people wandering around downtown beating drums and stopping traffic at corners.

So after all this, we take the bus home and Dawn says she's going to a friend's house. Well, she didn't stay there long, and then no one knew where she was for hours. Her folks finally tracked her down and she was home by about 1 a.m. Given what we just went through around here over Chris Pineda, it really wasn't the week to be pulling teenage stunts like that. But if teenagers always acted with that sort of knowledge in mind, I guess they wouldn't be teenagers.

I spent last night in the kitchen at Dawn's house. Adriana and Julian were cooking up fried fish with a ton of chopped garlic. Joey wanted to know where the fish's brain was. His dad did a little surgery on his fish's head when we sat down to eat and produced a slimy pea-sized globe.

Joey's been pursuing his drawing, and papa Julian is backing him up on it. That was fun to see. Somebody found Joey a Homies poster and he's trying to draw the figures from it, especially the dogs.

It was Julian, Jr's 17th birthday. He spent most of the evening outside in a Jeep with his buddy listening to music, loudly but not too loudly. I could hear it from 10 feet away from the car with its windows shut, but only at a dull roar, not a full-on blast.

By 11 we'd had it with pretending we weren't worried about Dawn and put the full-on press to find her. Adriana called her friends and their parents, Julian and Joey went out looking, I kept Adriana company and watched the baby while she called up a storm. We were under the impression you can't report someone missing until they've been gone 24 hours. I called the 9th District to check that out and they said, no you can report her, but it has to be a parent. That's when she called in. Adriana gave me the phone--she was too angry to talk to her, I think.

I wasn't much help. "Where are you?" I yelled.

"Somewhere," Dawn said.

"How many kids got killed this week?"

"I'm fine," she said in a small voice.

"When are you coming home?"


"Well, hurry up!" I said, exasperated. "I'll be here when you get home."

Apparently that scared her into not wanting to come home, which I could have guessed but at that point I wasn't real rational either. She called later to say she was at her friend's house, named the friend and asked to stay over. Her mom talked to her, said no, she needed to come home, and then gave it to me.

This time I had a better grip. "Honey, just come home. We're worried about you."

Then she didn't want to get in the car with her dad. (He had driven over there suspecting that's where she was, and was waiting outside for her.) "I'll walk home by myself," she said. It was now shortly after midnight.

"At this hour?" I said. "No way. Nobody walks home by themselves at this time of night." (To be fair, I do sometimes, but I'm almost 40 years old, know self-defense and walk the one block from the bus stop to the house with my hand in a fist and my keys in between my fingers.)

Anyway, she's supposed to be coming over to wash baby clothes at some point.

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