Thursday, June 28, 2012

Two Left Hands

                This entry dates back a few months, but, at the same time, considering the overall “issue”, it has been a theme that has surrounded me throughout my existence. The title is “Two Left Hands”, and while I do not have two left hands, the cliché does not fit either, that is, inferring that my right hand is as useless as my left hand. That being said, and perhaps I should have preempted it, I am right-handed, at least that was how I was taught to be at such a young age that I no longer have a choice as to which hand is preferred for the majority of usage…
                Egad… but what a jumble I have just written!
                Okay, first off, there is a cliché about a person having “two left hands”, and that cliché implies that the person is clumsy, as in, both of the person’s hands are of the least used sort, the one not normally used. Secondly, this assumes that the person in question is not naturally left-handed. (Otherwise, we are discussing some incredible prodigy of incredible talent… which should somehow be tied into sports…)
                No, this entry is about something entirely different than the issue of whether one is right-handed or left-handed, although, indeed, that does affect the outcome. But enough dilly-dallying!
                When I was VERY young, as in, seven years old, a man by the name of James Earl Carter, Jr. was sworn in as the 39th president of this here United States of America. Again, I was very young at the time, that is, so young that any concept of what living actually entails would not arrive for at least another ten years, but then again, what does living actually entail? (I cannot resist… I digress!)
                As anyone else, I have many memories of my youth, but they are not straightforward lines of event after event. As the issue at present revolves around my seventh year of life, there are mere points that I remember that have remained since my early youth. It is almost like a slide show…
                I remember vividly Jimmy Carter winning the election of 1976, and I was VERY happy about that, despite the fact that all of my family was against the situation. This is not a political entry, by any means. I was a young kid who intuited the nature of the new president that seemed so likeable to me. All of the preceding incidents that led up to his election were unknown to me… the Viet Nam war, Watergate, the oil embargo in the Middle East… I just liked the man, again, intuitively.
                One of the clear memories I have from that time period was “Buy American”. As a naïve child, I thought that was quite logical, again having no idea of any of the depth of a global economy, etc.. Of course, buy American made products! A few of my extended family worked in factories, so by all means, let’s keep them employed! For those who were not around or cognizant at that time, the advertising for “Buy American” was intense, so much the case, that a child of seven, that is, me, thought that that theme was as logical and established as apple pies and baseball, so to speak.
                Apparently, it was not. All the fanfare I grew up hearing disappeared rather quickly, as did Jimmy Carter’s presidency, and as my life focus was on… trivialities of any given particular moment, twenty years passed, then ten more. Now, as a person who has survived forty years on this planet, and in this same country, I might add, the situation is quite different.
                It seems, actually historical data dictates, that all the while I was growing up thinking that American jobs were being saved by our money purchasing power, the great majority of those jobs landed in third world countries where the labor force is cheap! While I grew up under the rally call to “Buy American”, which I have tried to do throughout my life, the reality of the situation was that the great majority of those “American” jobs were shipped overseas, and great land masses as well, to areas where the cost of the labor force was next to nothing in comparison to, say, unionized labor in the good ol’ USA. Again, I admit, I was naïve at the time, and as I aged, I noticed the “Made in Japan” labels change  to “Made in Taiwan”. Eventually those countries passed the cheap labor torch as well…
                Now there is the “MiC” issue… Made in China.
                It can be quite amazing how quickly time passes whilst one is embroiled in the day to day task of surviving in a capitalistically aligned global society of humans. As I think back on the “Made in the USA” call in the mid-seventies, and now witness “Made in China” on almost every item for sale in any type of store… ANYWHERE!... What the… happened?!!! And where did the time go?!!! A mere twenty-five years?!!!
                But enough of that. “MIC”. “Made in China”. That is the “issue” of this entry. Apparently, at some point in our past, products made in China were of considerable value, such as… China! Most families I knew in my youth had “China”, that is, porcelain plates, supposedly “hand crafted” in China, which were mostly for show, because they were so expensive using them for actual dining purposes was absurd. To add another “apparently”, quality seems to have fallen off the Chinese plan for production, now that it has become the production machine that it has.
                A theme I have always lived by is “you get what you pay for”. If you want quality, you need to pay more. In my simplistic approach to “things”, I much rather pay extra money for something that will last, than have to pay multiple times for something of inferior quality that constantly breaks. And that is why I have tried to “buy American”.
                Then, I became a farmer. To further qualify that, then I became a certified organic farmer, not that that really makes a difference. Anyway, as a produce farmer, there are always “items” to be purchased in order to make one’s operation, well, operate. Since I have been farming over the last decade or so, most of the purchases come from large retail stores… by default. Screws, nails, nuts, bolts, electrical supply, plumbing, etc., all reside conveniently on the shelves of the large retail stores. I have looked into purchasing supplies from other venues over the internet, however, since the price of fuel has quadrupled over the past twelve years, shipping costs relegate most quality items into the “not possible” category.
                So, as the years have passed, and I have worked with a myriad of items purchased from the large retail stores, I have been constantly frustrated as those items either break down, implode, or are utterly worthless. And each time I experience one of the let downs, I search for the lettering that I am certain is there… Made in China. Oh how frustrating it is to think how the “buy American” theme was merely a façade! F@#$ing capitalism!
                To ramble on no longer, the point of this entry revolves around a product I purchased at one of the large retail stores. It was a pair of gloves. Before me lie the task of potting up hundreds of plants , and the issue is the perlite in the grow mix. Perlite is “exploded” volcanic rock, a natural ingredient in soil mix the helps to “aerate” the mixture so the roots of the young plants have room to grow. Perlite just happens to be quite abrasive, as in, when working with it with your hands, even quite toughened farm hands like my own, it tends to slice those hands up over the hours working with it. Ergo, I bought a pair of gloves made of some type of rubber material that was water proof, since the soil mix would be saturated.
                A day was planned to work with the potting mix and plant, etc. all day long. And on that day, I opened the stapled together pair of gloves. As I attempted to put them on my hands, I quickly realized that I was the lucky recipient of two left handed gloves. Of all things! I checked the gloves over three times just to make sure I was witnessing the situation correctly. Yep, two left-handed gloves. I checked the label. Yep, Made in China. Ugh. Instantly an image appeared in my mind of a Chinese factory worker getting a good laugh over putting two left handed gloves together in a package known to have a destination of the USA.
                So, there I was with a ton of work to do, two left-handed gloves and the store I bought them from 20 minutes away. I forced one of the left-handed gloves on my right hand and went to work anyway. The glove tore within minutes, which made it virtually non-protective.
                But I must stop this rant. It just makes me so frustrated. Why even make something so crappy in the first place? In past centuries all that was available was quality, because otherwise the craftsman would not be employed. Not is our century…noooo… if it ain’t cheap no one will buy it. That previous statement is not true, because I will buy it, and I know quite a few others who will as well! Did you hear that, large retail stores… I said… (I’ll just pretend they heard it.) SELL AMERICAN!!!

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