A few years back I wrote a column about this fellow who works at the local nursing home. Name’s Kenny Hamilton–a 30 something fellow who has a unique situation. It seems that ole Kenny (sounds like another “Kenny Boy”, no?) is a janitor. He mops and sweeps and cleans up all the “accidents” that my parents and the other residents leave on the floors. He waxes and polishs and does what most janitors do during a full time shift. Now that wasn’t quite the “unique” part of this story. No sooner does Kenny punch out of the nursing home gig that he rushes off to the local hospital to punch in ANOTHER full time shift as a janitor.
That was a few years ago. Things sure have changed for my pal Kenny. In those days he mopped and cleaned and waxed for an average of $6.50 an hour–putting in around 80 hours a week. I am now proud to say (this tongue in cheek is killing me) that today, in this the “year of our Bush 2002”, Kenny averages (drum roll please) $7.00 an hour and now works 86 hours a week!! The money is just rolling in! He still lives with his 80 something mother in her modest Daytona Beach abode, and regularly calls his little daughter living in another city. Says he visits her whenever he has some time off. Time off? When you clock in over 14 hours a day for a 6 day week, when is there time off? Plus, with the ever increasing costs of health insurance deductibles & co-pays, dental care, car repair/insurance/gasoline, what choice is there for someone like Kenny but to work two jobs?
As my NYC pal (and progressive radio talk host) Jay Diamond states: “FEUDALISM is alive and well in America!” Jay and I share a unique past– along with Senators Schumer and Coleman, we all attended Brooklyn’s Cunningham JHS in the early 60’s.What makes things really “unique”, is out of the four of us it is but Jay and myself who rant and write about the need for economic reform. Seems that Chuckie and Normie are too busy securing corporate and rich man’s donations for their “war chests” to actually DO anything for the Kenny Hamiltons of our nation.
Isn’t it ironic that the people who we entrust to clean, shower and clean up after our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, keeping their humble little bodies and surroundings disease free–these “valuble” assets to our society earn 400 TIMES less than some corporate CEO “jet setter”, sports owner, celebrity or ballplayer? On the “First day of Christmas”, when we are busy opening gifts and hugging our loved ones, Kenny Hamilton will most likely be mopping the fecal matter from the floor in one of our relative’s rooms, happy to just have the job.
To all the Kenny Hamiltons out there, here is my Christmas card to you:
The founder and future CEO of Christianity chose to be born in a manger surrounded by shepherds and farm animals –not a golden palace with pomp, prestige and riches.
In later years he associated with fishermen, the lame, beggars & thieves –carrying few possessions.
This man, a devout Jew, chased the money changers from the Temple and freed the sacrificial doves. He preached equality, fraternity and love for one’s neighbors, stating equivocably: “Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to heaven”, and “They will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another.”
Wouldn’t this be a better world if our political and business leaders took heed?
May the true spirit of Christmas bless you all –everyone !
Philip A Farruggio is a baby boomer Brooklyn NY born bred and educated (Brooklyn College ’74), Currently, he resides in Florida and is self employed as a mfg. rep for an environmental bacteria company. Philip writes for many publications as a free lance columnist.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org