23 Trillion Thrilling Clothing Things
From Happy Workers World Wide
Cheap dude’s out shovelin’ dirt like a herky-jerky electric scarecrow, too-big loose clothes flappin’ in the desert wind.
He’s had the same fashion, or lack thereof, for 30 years, jeans and a t-shirt. When the “grunge” look came and went, he was dirt poor and his clothes holy, so he was way cool for that little while.
His work offered a “uniform service,” which most workers (but none of the “administrative” echelon) used. For a weekly fee, outfits were supplied, then picked up, washed, and delivered each week. Convenient but not cheap, expensive if you lost one of their precious uniforms.
Cheap Dude hated uniforms. Military, police, boy scouts, they were all so YMCA. He especially hated the uniform of the Cult of his Youth, the white shirt and tie. The same white shirt and tie he was forced to wear for his many years in the grocery business. The Stressed Businessman or Earnest Missionary look. Wholesome. (Insert loud poot here.)
So his fashion was from the Used Crap Store, two or three dollars for ‘dress pants’ sometimes. Stain’em, rip ‘em, no worries! Most of his shirts were from his sons, who’d grown larger than he. He happily wore their cast-offs, Middle School Band, Chess Club, Latest Trendy Disease Awareness, and Celebrate Mediocrity.
Celebrate Mediocrity: Some “administrator” decided that stupid and lazy kids were psychologically harmed by watching smart kids get awards for high grades each semester. Thus a new program, “Strive for 0.5“ they called it. If you raised your grade from a D-minus to a D by actually showing up to class and attempting some of the work, you got the same award as the kids who slaved and struggled to keep their A’s. (This is real.) Now instead of 20 kids getting a handshake and a copied “certificate” for being on the Principal’s Honor Roll, 120 got a “Strive for 0.5“ t-shirt. His sons, who had often been part of the 20, called it “Celebrate Mediocrity,” and refused to wear the shirts.
(Luckily, each semester’s design was chosen from among striving art students’. Not uniform. Cut arts funding all you want, kids are creative until you crush that part of them with the fascist boot-heel of overwork. So Cheap Dude wore them, even as he felt his own creativity being crushed from overwork.)
His “youth sports” shirt collection was cut from the same cloth. Every season money was shaken from rich and poor to buy trophies for every single participant. No losers allowed among the delicate youth. Cheap Dude refused to pay, so no trophies for his sons, who weren’t much good at sports anyhow. The “Team Mom” considered him an ogre; the sons were indifferent. “If all the kids get one, it don’t mean squat,” one wisely noted. “Besides, basketball sucks, do I have to go to practice?”
(This was Cheap Dude’s Karmic Payback for telling his parents he didn’t believe in God. Basketball sucks?! That was so wrong on so many levels you couldn’t even argue with it, you just sat in stunned horror, what horrible parent fails to impart such a Critical Teaching?)
Cheap Dude’s Fall Work Pants Collection also included a few pairs of way-too-big jeans from a son’s rich friend who’d lost a bunch of weight. “Out of fashion” and fitting no one.
So now he goes to work in baggy jeans cinched with an old belt, and a light blue shirt from Le Club Francaise. “Hey dude, you lose weight?” No, just way-too-big pants. He’d rather have $50 in his pocket and look ridiculous, than spend $50 on “nice” pants that would just get wrecked anyhow. When you snag an angle-iron end and rip a huge hole in free pants, you just laugh.
Bad news for all the kids who grow up thinking they are special because of all the well-meant bogus t-shirts and trophies: someday you may end up in a third-hand shirt, wearing too-big pants, shoveling dirt.
On a whim Cheap Dude checked the labels of the cheap/free clothes he had on. As he suspected, it was a quick trip around the globe: sweatshirt from China, work shirt from Bangladesh, t-shirt from Honduras. Work boots, back to China. He had to pull his pants almost off to find the Dominican Republic label.
His underwear was made in Vietnam. Bomb the crap out of a country and next thing you know they’re selling you cheap underwear. All that death and destruction was worth it, maybe we “won” after all--Booyah!
Holy Underwear on a Solar Dryer
In the “good old days,” youth of the U.S. had the same opportunity:12 hour days, six days a week. It took huge social movements to get women and children out of “sweatshops.” Massive strikes and riots for a “minimum wage" and eight hour days. Workers were gunned down by hired goons for this, the Owners fought every step.
In the end the Owners won anyway. “You spoiled children and selfish citizens want a life, a living wage? No way, we’ll move our factory to desperate countries full of desperate workers, as is our god-and-government-given right.” Not sure which god, but we know which side the government’s on. And we continue to buy their cheap stuff, “Thank You, and Have A Nice Day!”
Of course kids in Bangladesh are “happy just to have a job,” just like kids in the U.S. were supposed to be, back when. The Owners would love to bring those days back as Depression II settles in. We are willing slaves when we’re Happy Just to Have a Job.
Come back Haynes! Come back Froot of the Loon! We’ll go back to our old 72 hour weeks, at any wage! Wait...no we won’t, not yet anyway.
So what do we do?
Help Hondurans go on strike, until the factory moves somewhere more desperate?
Make our own clothes, no matter how silly?
Who wants their wives and kids and selves to work all day for almost nothing, to provide free shirts to kids who do almost nothing?
Why do humans create new humans they can't possibly feed?
At what profit margin does insatiable greed become immoral?
Workers of the world, why have we stopped trying to unite?
What we will do, of course, is Nothing. Stand proud in our nice clothes on the backs of the world’s poorest. Cheap Dude’s there too, in his “free” hillbilly fashion. Poor of all ages gratefully clutching their daily gruel bowl thank us. We will Have A Nice Day, by God, full-bellied and fashionable.