I pull myself to a sitting position. To my left, in the distance, a Border Patrol helicopter is hovering. To my right is Mexico, separated by only a few fields of lettuce. I stand up gingerly.
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The last word: A gringo in the lettuce fields Author Gabriel Thompson expected farm work to be backbreaking. It also turned out to be a real test of skill. I pull myself to a sitting position. To my left, in the distance, a Border Patrol helicopter is hovering.
To my right is Mexico, separated by only a few fields of lettuce. I stand up gingerly. I feel like someone has dropped a log on my back. And then piled that log onto a truck with many other logs, and driven that truck over my thighs. Day three of five. Our short break is over. Two dozen crew members standing near the lettuce machine are already putting on gloves and sharpening knives.
Manuel and I hustle toward the machine, grab our own knives from a box of chlorinated water, and set up in neighboring rows, just as the machine starts moving slowly down another endless field. Each winter, when the weather turns cold in Salinas, Calif. Before applying for fieldwork at the local Dole headquarters, I came across several articles describing the causes of a farmworker shortage.
The stories cited an aging workforce, immigration crackdowns, and long delays at the border that discourage workers with green cards who would otherwise commute to the fields from their Mexican homes. John McCain created a stir in when he issued a challenge to a group of union members in Washington, D.
Next comes the gancho, an S-shaped hook that slips over my belt to hold packets of plastic bags. A white glove goes on my right hand, a gray glove, supposedly designed to offer protection from cuts, goes on my left. Over the cloth gloves I pull on a pair of latex gloves. I put on a black hairnet, my baseball cap, and a pair of protective sunglasses. I feel ridiculous. The crew is already working in the field when Pedro walks me out to them and introduces me to Manuel.
Manuel is holding an inch knife in his hand. Then he walks away. Manuel resumes cutting, following a machine that rolls along just ahead of the crew. Every several seconds Manuel bends down, grabs a head of iceberg lettuce with his left hand, and makes a quick cut with the knife in his right hand, separating the lettuce from its roots.
Next, he lifts the lettuce to his stomach and makes a second cut, trimming the trunk. He shakes the lettuce, letting the outer leaves fall to the ground. Manuel does this over and over again, explaining each movement. Five minutes later, Pedro reappears and tells me to grab a knife. Manuel points to a head of lettuce. I bend over, noticing that most of the crew has turned to watch.
Grabbing the head with my left hand, I straighten up, doing my best to imitate Manuel. Pedro steps in. The greatest difficulty, though, is in the trimming. I had no idea that a head of lettuce was so humongous. Pedro offers me a suggestion. For a minute or two I feel euphoric. But the woman who is packing the lettuce into boxes soon swivels around to face me.
With her left hand she holds the bag up, and with her right she smashes it violently, making a loud pop. She turns the bag over and the massacred lettuce falls to the ground. I know the techniques by this time and am moving as fast as my body will permit. Yet I need to somehow double my current output to hold my own. Our fastest cutter, Julio, meanwhile can handle three.
That feeling aside, what strikes me about our member crew is how quickly they have welcomed me as one of their own. Simply showing up on the second day seemed to be proof enough that I was there to work. When I faltered in the field and fell behind, hands would come across from adjacent rows to grab a head or two of my lettuce so I could catch up.
If I took a seat alone during a break, someone would call me into their group and offer a homemade taco or two. The day before, I put my left hand too low on a head of lettuce. When I punched my blade through the stem, the knife struck my middle finger. I took two painkillers to get through the afternoon, but when I wake the next morning it is still throbbing.
With one call to an answering machine that morning, and another the next day, I create my own four-day weekend. The surprise is that when I return on Monday, feeling recuperated, I wind up having the hardest day of my brief career in lettuce. Within hours, my hands feel weaker than ever.
A theory forms in my mind. Back, legs, and arms grow sore, hands and feet swell up. A tolerance for the pain is developed, though, and two-day weekends provide just enough time for the body to recover from the trauma. My four-day break had been too long; my body actually began to recuperate, and it wanted more time to continue. Instead, it was thrown right back into the mix and rebelled. Only on my second day back did my body recover that middle ground.
A Gringo in the Lettuce Fields
Thompson is a man who wanted to show the world the captivating life of fieldworkers. In the story, he describes the things that the workers have to go through on a daily basis such as the uniform, what they do and has a detail description of how they do it. However, the author fails to make this excerpt a well-written story. He fails to do so because he lacks in strong structure, diction and complex sentences. Even though the article had a great storyline and appeals to the emotions of the reader it lacked in the components that separate a well-written piece from a poorly written one. In order to experience a day in the life of a fieldworker, Thompson decides to work on a lettuce field in Yuma, Arizona for two months. He wants to let Americans know of the hardships that field workers face, most of them being Hispanic.
A Gringo in the Lettuce Fields: Note-Taking Essay Sample
A Gringo In The Lettuce Fields: Note-Taking