June 30, 2009

Scab

Liam couldn’t stand it anymore. It had been too long. He disagreed with the strike called by the union, but he was a good union man. He stayed with his brothers in arms, and he stayed away from work. Some of his friends crossed, and certainly he wouldn’t be associated with them anymore, buy they had families, like he did himself.
This morning he was going to cross. No one wants to be a scab, but if it means food in your mouth, and the mouth of you family, a man can lose sight of his ideals.
He rinsed the soap and the hair off his face in the washbasin, tied up his boots, and nudged his wife to give her a quick kiss. She told him to be safe today. Before the danger of the mine, he had the danger of the line to face. Old friends would be his enemies this morning, his best friend his worst tormentor. Grabbing his lunch pail, he walked out the door, his shoulders heavy with the anticipation of the worst.
Several times he wanted to turn back, but all he needed to think about was his family. His wife, once all plump and beautiful, now all emaciated. His children, reduced to walking into town to beg for anything the good people would give them. Liam supported the union, his “brothers,” but he had at home something more important to support, those who truly loved him.
As he approached the mine, he noticed something he didn’t expect. The line was not barring the shaft, no one was chanting the rally cries, and no one yelled the battle call. The entrance was buzzing with activity, but nothing subversive, it was the activity such as that at the entrance of an anthill, all the good workers diligently working at their assigned task, from the loaders to the “moles.”
He entered the boss’s hut and punched the clock. A fellow worker embraced him, and congratulated him on their victory on another battle won. Liam could only produce a sly smile. He had crossed, but he was the only one who knew