Our parents, (mine, the Bag Lady's & cousin Leah's from The Goats Lunch Pail) were all raised during the dirty 30's. They all knew what it meant to work hard, or starve, or freeze. They knew what it was like to have a lard sandwich - and be grateful for it. They knew why Canada joined WWII, they knew why we have Remembrance Day ceremonies and the significance of voting.
They worked hard to make life easier for their children. We had it relatively easy, yes, we had black and white telly, computers were huge things that took up whole rooms and required a degree to run them. Our education was taken for granted, it was law that children had to be educated. Most of us did not have to go find work at 15 or 12 or even younger. Some did, but for the most part I am talking about lower middle class and up - we are the ones that take things for granted.
As none of the three of us that blog had any children, I now have to generalize about the rest of our generation. They want to make things easier for their children too! This results in their children taking even more for granted. If they don't have at least three TV's and Cell phones and iPods and games stations not to mention the latest and greatest computer, they are hard done by. They want their cars when they get their drivers licenses and they get chauffeured by mommy or daddy until such a time as they do get said license. Most will do just enough at school to graduate, some will make an effort and go on to higher education but some will drop out when they get old enough.
So, this is what started me thinking along these lines:
We have a new tenant in the building that the office is in. He was brought here from Mexico to work in a food kiosk in the mall. The owner of the food outlet, is paying the rent, power etc on the suite and paying Juan (not his real name) a regular wage on top of this. There will be another joining him soon - also from Mexico.
Yes, Alberta is booming and we can't find enough people willing to work for 10 or 12.00/hour to sling hash, so we import them. We have three suites with West Indians in them for the same purpose.
I honestly can't say what I expected this fellow to be like, except that he is nothing at all what I expected - if that makes any sense. He is from Chihuahua, says he was raised middle class ( I think he was being modest), he speaks four languages fluently, French, Italian, English and of course Spanish. (He was starting to learn German too before he left.) He asked if I knew of anyone in the buildings that might speak any one of these languages so that he doesn't lose his skills. I did finally remember one woman from the Netherlands that speaks French, so I sent him to meet her (after I asked her of course).
He came and chatted again the other day and mentioned that no one he has met yet seems to be interested in cultural things like Opera or the Arts and he was wondering what he could do. And why don't we learn any language other than English here? We do, it is just most of Western Canada that learns French moves to Eastern Canada. It seems that in Mexico to learn another language takes money, unlike here where it is taught in school.
This lead to a discussion of how much we take for granted - oh, and the fact that he landed in the red-neck province of Canada. We have culture - don't get me wrong, we have a symphony and opera and plenty of theater and art galleries, lots of clubs with live music etc. It is just that the people he meets at work, or in the apartment complex are mostly blue collar workers. Or are working two or more jobs just to pay the damned rent. I pointed out that you don't need an education in this province to make bucket loads of money - you just need a strong back and a willingness to work hard everyday.
He said, but what do you do with all that money you make? Well, they either spend it on expensive toys & vehicles or save it up and go to Mexico for the winter. I took pity on him and printed off the Opera schedule and the Symphony schedule and told him that the Friday paper had a pull out section with all the things to do about town. Of course, he also wanted to know where a Catholic church was for Sunday - yeah, like I'm the last person you should be asking about that - however, I did find the info for him and he can attend in Spanish, Italian, French or three or four other languages if he so desires.
He has only been here a week, so Sunday was his first taste of real cold and blizzard conditions. I hope he manages through the rest of this week - the temperatures are going to be in the low -30's to high -40's all week.
He got me thinking though, what do you take for granted? That your car will start? The grocery stores will always have full shelves? Water will always come out of the tap? Lights turn on at the flick of the switch? Your internet connection?
Good Morning all.