Dear Mr. Davis,
Thank you for spending part of your day with us yesterday. For the few hours you stayed as a guest in our home, you gave me an opportunity to reflect on why I’ve been working so hard for so long to find a new way for people to engage in an economy that leaves so many like you so far behind.
Insights about the migration of warehouse and trucking work are hard to come by if you don’t have your perspective as a day laborer who has no regular job, no health benefits, and no place to call home. I haven’t considered how hard it would be to find work if you didn’t have a drivers license, a credit card or an address. I didn’t take the time to think about the fact that industrial parks and warehouses being on the outskirts of town mean that people like you, who want to work, can’t do so because there’s no transportation to get to and from work. With the gentrification of warehouses in downtown areas, I can’t say I gave much thought to the degree to which the industrial park has actually compounded poverty by making jobs less accessible.
I haven’t had a guest sit at my table for a long time wearing his sunglasses throughout the meal. But I couldn’t help but notice the fact that your left eye looked like it had been injured. I suspect that the constant exposure to the cold at this time of year makes that all the more difficult to manage. Regardless of whether Congress mandates universal health care or repeals it, I suspect that you’re one of our fellow Americans who simply won’t have much access when you need it. I wonder how many thousand people drove by you on their way down the highway – people who think that big government is a burden – without stopping to see if you needed anything. If our paths cross again, I hope that I can provide enough sanctuary that you can actually feel comfortable enough to remove the glasses so that you and I can actually look into each others’ eyes.
This weekend, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and President Obama told the country that the economy was looking better because the private sector added over 103,000 jobs in December. They glossed over the part about the fact that, during the same reporting period, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that November saw 1,586 mass layoff actions impacting 152,816 workers. And, they seemed to ignore the fact that hourly labor compensation fell while hours worked increased. They also seem to have ignored the fact that their enthusiasm over unemployment rates is still based on the inhumane, sociopathic belief that only those qualifying for unemployment benefits should be counted. With over 16% of the population without work – the real number of people without jobs – I wonder if anyone in Washington (or Charlottesville) has listened to you. Given how insightful your conversation was at our table, it seems that you would have a ton of valuable inputs in describing what the national economic and employment picture really looks like. It is unthinkable that “We the People” officially don’t think you exist and that we have a system in which you don’t – and can’t – count.
While I hope your travels lead you to the destination you desire, I hope that when you get your feet on the ground, you reflect, for a moment, on your sojourn here in Charlottesville. I hope you pursue your passions to write music and produce albums. I hope that you find a nice piece of real estate to start putting some roots down. Most of all, Mr. Davis, I hope that you have the opportunity, one day, to see a man by the side of the road and invite him to lunch. And when that happens, I trust that he has size 10 and a half feet so that you can pass along the best steel toed boots I ever had.
Godspeed, Mr. Davis… and, keep the collar up on that jacket and know that you’re in my thoughts.