One nation under Status

We had left Calexico in tatters, rather we left the Carl’s Jr. in tatters. I had never eaten there before because of the owners’ well known racism and anti-semitism.

But ravenously hungry and heat stroking, so I hit the pause button on my principles. And … that was an excellent burger.

It was an 85-mile day that turned into a hundred but the morning was chilly with a few miles of climbing that became a wondrous downhill tailwind well past Ocotillo. Then it started getting hot and the wind shifted and we hit on the brilliant idea of rotating.

Drafting works. Who knew?

But the heat and wind worked, too, and by Calexico we were dead. With only thirty miles to reach our campground we felt good. Outside Calexico there was a food distribution center with at least a hundred cars in line.

I believe in government. I believe that people should get help regardless of need. I believe in healthcare and a safety net for all who want it. I believe in a minimum annual income even if you never work.

But.

More than 2/3 of the cars in that line were new. Some were expensive German sedans. Most were what I would peg at a $500-$600 monthly payment. Which is fine, I suppose. If you are going to get free food, might as well do it in style. What bothered me wasn’t the obviously misplaced priority but rather the obvious concern with status. If you had a used car or paid in full, maybe you would have enough to buy things like … food.

When you bike around all smelly and raggedy, you don’t care so much about status. At the Circle K in Brawley I met Pancho, who was riding a nuked out Kona.

“You ride a lot,” I observed.

“Yeah, my car is busted. But my bike don’t never break.”

“Bikes are reliable.”

“Damn right. And I love to smoke so this keeps my lungs in shape.”

“I bet.”

“Yeah, man, I got a trailer I put my lawnmower and trimmer, gas can, everything, it weighs about a hundred fifty pounds but I can go anywhere man and smoke as much I want.”

“You got a spare tube for when you flat?”

“No man, they cost so much now I just patch what I got.”

“This is good for at least one.” I handed him a ten.

“No, man, I’m good, but thanks.”

I put it away. “Well heck man,” he said, “maybe I shoulda taken the money. I handed it to him. “That’s nice of you, man.”

“I got a friend gave me some bills before we left, and he just told me to pass it on.”

We took a picture and kept riding, but missed the turnoff and ended up tacking on another ten miles or so. At Wiest Lake the ranger told us we couldn’t camp, but I had called the Public Works Department the day before and they had given me the green light. The ranger relented due to our pitiful condition and we pitched camp. Turns out we also had a camp cat, which was amazing.

He wanted food but settled for petting.

We were more demanding, requiring food, water, and immediate collapse. Tomorrow is another 85 miles to Blythe, then a rest day. Which we sorely need.

END

15 thoughts on “One nation under Status”

  1. In the 70’s the cost to a migrant worker, who didn’t want to settle in the US, but only wanted to come north to work the fields and send money home, wasn’t more than the cost of transportation. Now you might ask, “Why was the migrant coming North to work the fields?” Apparently, from 1942 – 1964 there was a program in place, with papers, that allowed Mexican men to cross the border and work, which they did, and they spent money in their local economies, and they sent money home, and when the work was over, they returned home, because, their families were there.

    In 1964 that program ended (Not sure why), and by 1965 the worker who had been supporting his family and probably extended family, still needed work, because Mexico, and so began crossing the border without papers. The cost to do this, was no more than the years before, because it was simply transportation. Again, and their is data to support this, more than 90% of the people that crossed to work, re-crossed to go home after the seasons were over. Why? Because their families were there. They only came to work.

    Then in 1986, the US Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, making it more difficult to cross borders, and now is when it started to cost something to get across the border. There was someone appointed by Reagan, who took this act very seriously, and appealed for more funding for border control. Without border control, the act was useless, and thus began the senseless pattern of throwing money to close/restrict the border, thus raising the cost to the migrant to get across the border.

    Now, circular migration, if you want to continue it means, you have to pay that amount every year to smuggle across. Who can afford that? So, instead of migrating back, migrants started to stay, and if they stay, and their families are in Mexico, then how long is that situation going to last? The choice becomes, returning to Mexico where there is no work, or bring your family to the US where there is. What do you think they chose?

    So, I say, tear down that wall. Issue working papers to any Migrant who wants to work, and let them go home when they want. Win/Win. There are still tons of jobs in this country, that very few Americans will do, no matter how desperate they are.

    I hate that wall.

    1. Way to go with the history, facts and logic!

      I would also add that there exists an economic incentive in some quarters to continue this punitive immigration policy: it lowers labor costs that these immigrants typically do (agriculture, restaurant, construction) so business have lower costs and consumers pay less for their products.

      There’s also a political incentive. A party can use this group as a scapegoat to distract their followers from their own failures and to create a rally around the flag effect.

  2. Jonathan Phillips

    Just noting that when a pandemic suddenly hits, the job you thought was rock solid suddenly stops overnight and your family income goes from typical middle class to zero, the dealership doesn’t just let you hand over the keys and stop the payments.

    1. You are right. People need help and should get it. But why buy the car to start with if it pushes you over the edge? Just observing. Save and be frugal when times are good if you can!

  3. Could you give more details on “campground closed” in organized campgrounds but they let you in. Is “no camping” just a way for administrators to make a judgement call on homeless, drug users, undesirables etc. Do they let you in because you are none of these things or what is going on in these strange times.
    Curious to know what you find out there. Thanks

      1. william derosset

        Sure. A couple on fancy bikes, new $400 wool jacket, reasonably clean, single layer of sunburn? Come on in and share your money with us, please.

        Locally, a few trash bags, wal-mart bike, skinny dog, Sun-leather skin and a ragged ski jacket with thirty-five layers of cotton underneath? Campground is closed. Move along.

  4. Oh, one more thing…Carl’s jr. is publicly traded and has been since I think 2012….CarlKarcher (RIP) wasn’t a bad dude, Actually pretty generous in Hispanic causes (although that served his chain well)…I met him a few times…he was just that self made SoCal guy.. very blue collar…

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