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ALICE Column Links

These will take you to my stories published monthly in the Holland Sentinel community column.

To Tip or Not To Tip

The smells of cooking food fill the room so thick you can taste it. It’s been six straight hours, with another two or three to go and her feet ache so bad the bottoms actually burn. She leans on the counter, with a reassuring smile at the new cook.

A Reminder to Not be Cruel

The fenders are rusted so completely, there’s more decay in some places than metal. It’s dirty, but we can’t take it through a car wash because pieces might fall off! The driver’s seat is ripped so bad the inner foam is sticking out. The front windows don’t roll down, or up and one is stuck cracked open. Perfect for the upcoming winter. The former owner left a ... ahem ... wrapped personal moment product on the console and there’s something that looks suspiciously like a bullet hole in the front windshield.

It’s our new car.

Fear of Exposure in the Workplace

“Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” One’s leaning on the back of the couch jumping up and down on the cushions like a trampoline, his face nearly smacking the glass of the window with every bounce. My older child runs to open the door with a toothy grin on her face that makes me hate what I have to say next.

“No! Don’t touch him.”

That beautiful grin melts away to a bit of fear. The bouncing stops.

Most People Work Hard, Deserve Housing

The drawings on the walls look like they’ve been done by a professional. The race car’s lines make it seem to stand out from the paper, as though I can reach out and actually touch that bumper. It’s not a professional, though, but someone, probably a teen, with more artistic promise in a pinky than half the other kids in Holland, who lives in the Holland Women and Children Rescue Mission.

Sometimes what people need is a helping hand, but after that, sometimes there's still no place to go.

There Are People Struggling Among Us

The pine needles stuck out in all directions in a wreath that might make Frankenstein proud, but it was made by two children, a brother and a sister, who loved it. They couldn’t wait to show their mom in the morning when she got home from working third shift at a local manufacturing plant. The little boy, probably not even in first grade yet, was sure she would be so proud. And she would, I knew, because I’m a mom, too. A similar Mary Shelley-like creation was in my mini-van at that moment.

It's not all coming up roses for everyone in the Jewel of the Midwest, find out what lengths many people are reduced to just getting the essentials met.

Stop Looking Down On Lower Class

“Is this all you want to do with your life?”

The kid had to be around 22, fresh with his shiny college degree. He was hired to create programs for a machine that punches holes in metal thicker than a human hand. The owner of this company had a strange idea that he should be able to actually run the machine he was writing programs for, or at least have an idea of how it works.

Blue collar workers don't get a lot of respect, even thought they do the majority of physical labor that keeps the rest of the country running.

Shelter In Place - Except you, Get To Work

One press somewhere in the factory made something for milking cows, but the whole factory had to work. So here she stood putting health and possibly life on the line to make a weed whacker component. She held the piece up to her co-worker on the other side of the table, “Well, maybe people can use the weed whackers to defend their supplies of toilet paper.”

What happens when the order is given to shelter in place for your safety, but your employer decides it's business as usual?  For most blue collar workers, there's little choice.

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