O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
“Are we putting in the ice or . . ., ” I asked Tom, the kindly-looking white-bearded supervisor. He told me that we were building on top of the platforms which cover the ice. I asked who was coming. Last week SNHU had hosted Cirque du Soleil.
“El Presidente,” he said in the neutral tone which everyone in general society has to adopt while speaking about Trump. He seemed to ask whose side are you on? Tom refrained from making further references to the client, so I wondered the same thing about him. I resigned myself to the work. To leave a job site before dismissal gets you fired from the temp agency.
I’d been settling in for a day off when Complete Labor, the temp agency I’m on the rolls with, called me. A job at SNHU Arena. The last job I’d taken there had been for WWE Smackdown, July 2018. Hundreds of workers had come together, and the employer had provided. That day I’d made over a hundred dollars, and been given a paid lunch break as well as access to the catering the company brought along. They’d brought their own equipment, and the overall transformation and effect were startling.
However, the Trump team brought no such organizational skills to the table. The arena was barren except for the folding metal stands, all clustered in one area. There were almost 20 workers in the mostly-empty arena. Most were women, and most of the men were not white.
A second supervisor, this one with a dark beard, got us moving, tried to get the workers excited about “El Presidente,” and tried to start a “build that wall” chant. With the exception of one of the older white men who later asked if my shirt was from the Bible, and the tall and tattooed man who later confessed his drug addiction, this was mostly met with silence. This was the supervisor who said that drinking water would make me weak.
When the Trump servitors started trickling in, they couldn’t seem to bear to look at the Workers. They kept to themselves, sometimes calling the supervisor’s supervisor over to ask questions. Secret Service in sharp suits, a homely woman so proud to say she was “from the White House,” a young man with the Hitler Youth haircut and an Under Armour T-shirt, a man with a heavy woolen suit who didn’t take his glasses off inside. They stood by the stage which Trump will stand on, not daring to stand where El Presidente would soon stand.
The first four hours of Complete Labor are paid in advance. After that, more expenses get tacked on. Organizations can choose their pay rate, and the Trump Team had chosen the lowest one. To keep the workers hydrated, the SNHU staff gave us a $10 case of Powerade. This act increased their operating cost by about 0.1 percent, and after I cleaned up the one Powerade which had been left behind, Tom told all the workers that no one would ever get Powerade again. Some of the workers loved working at the Arena. They knew Tom. They showed him their Powerade bottles. It wasn’t me, they tried to explain. We were given our ticket for thirty dollars and instructed to leave.
I left with a desire to throw a milkshake at the building.
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Cj Lamere of Manchester is a writer, activist, and educator living in Texas, most of the time. Their favorite part of Manchester is the Mcintire Ski Area.