The One Time We Struck

Published 12:30 pm Sunday, September 24, 2023

     I know as much about union striking as I know about rocket science. At the same time, I know that the United Auto Workers (UAW) have laid the “gauntlet” down at the feet of the automobile companies. The gauntlet, in medieval times, were very heavy, armored gloves meant to protect the hands of jousting knights.

      To throw down the gloves at the feet of another knight was to challenge the other knight to a fight. The knight to whom the gloves had been thrown was expected to “pick up the gauntlet” and defend himself in some kind of battle.

        All we see and hear regarding the auto strike is the money part. We think it is all about less work and more pay. That sounds pretty good to me. Who wouldn’t want to work fewer hours and make more money? It’s a little more complicated than that and I hope they can come to some agreement before our overall economy is damaged.

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            To be honest, we don’t need an auto strike to threaten our economy; our government does that quite well all on their own. With all due respect to the fine men and women of the US Navy and Merchant Marines, the Washington crowd of both parties spends worse than drunken sailors.

            That phrase, spending worse than drunken sailors, was coined to highlight the undisciplined spending of the wages that a sailor might have earned in the months out on the high seas. Then, when he finally was able to put his feet on the dry land of some big city of the world, he would cut loose and there would be no restraint in his actions. At the end of the leave, he would go back to the ship, too broke to even pay attention!

            My brother and I struck one time as we were growing up on the farm. We worked in the fields just about every day and looked forward to Saturdays for a break. Then, most of those free days another farmer would drive up to our house and say to my daddy, “Herman, could your boys help this morning? I’m short a couple of hands.”

            The knock on the bedroom door was a familiar one. “Boys, Gene needs y’all for the morning. Get up and get dressed and go help him.” We might have been angry at the call, but we’d get up, get dressed, and go with Gene to the field. One Friday night, we decided that if Gene came up the next morning, we were not going.

            Sure enough, Saturday morning, we recognized the sound of his old jalopy and heard the conversation between Gene and Daddy. When the knock came on the door, we harmonized with a “We’re not going.” We struck!

            Nothing was said and we thought, “We’d shown them.”

            We slept late, until about eight, then got up for breakfast. Momma was unusually quiet and we felt something wasn’t exactly right. “Where’s Daddy?” we asked innocently.

            Momma replied not so innocently, “He’s working for Gene this morning. He took your places.”

            We had crossed a boundary and we knew it. Young as we were, we were supposed to be at work with Gene, but we had selfishly struck and Daddy, who had plenty to do in his own right, had taken our place. No one had to tell us we were wrong.

            At lunch, Gene brought Daddy home and he was dirty and sweaty from working in the tobacco field. We awaited our punishment quietly, but it never came. Daddy didn’t say a word in anger and he didn’t have to. I learned more without words than I could ever have learned from a blessing out! We never struck again.