Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won’t Do
What is it like doing the back-breaking work of immigrants? To find out, Gabriel Thompson spent the year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. He stooped over lettuce fields in Arizona and worked the graveyard shift at a chicken slaughterhouse in rural Alabama. He dodged taxis—not always successfully—as a bicycle delivery “boy” for an upscale Manhattan restaurant, and was fired from a flower shop by a boss who, he quickly realized, was nuts.
As one coworker explained, “These jobs make you old quick.” Back spasms occasionally keep Thompson in bed, where he suffers recurring nightmares involving iceberg lettuce and chicken carcasses. Combining personal narrative with investigative reporting, Thompson shines a bright light on the underside of the American economy, exposing harsh working conditions, union busting, and lax government enforcement—while telling the stories of workers, undocumented immigrants and desperate US citizens alike, forced to live with chronic pain in the pursuit of $8 an hour.
About the Author
Gabriel Thompson has contributed to New York, The Nation, New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, In These Times and others. He is the recipient of the Richard J. Margolis Award, the Studs Terkel Media Award, and a collective Sidney Hillman Award. His writings are collected at http://www.wherethesilenceis.org. The author of There’s No José Here and Calling All Radicals, he lives in Brooklyn.
You can read Gabriel Thompson’s blog and buy his book here.