Before relocating to the Arizona city of Yuma, the only thing I knew about the area was that it was both where Cesar Chavez was born and died. And, in fact, on my very first day in the lettuce fields I joined my new crew just west of a street named after Chavez. But aside from the Chavez connection, Yuma was a mystery. Only later, when doing research, did I learn that it happened to be the “winter lettuce capital” of the world. Not exactly the punchiest phrase, and certainly not likely to catch on in popular culture if they advertise the motto on items like this:
(Although, in retrospect, maybe mesh caps are in again–I can’t keep track of fashion trends. In which case, Yuma knows exactly what it’s doing.)
My two months in Yuma were spent cutting lettuce, sleeping, eating, and soaking in a tub to try and deal with the continuing deterioration of my body. Hands, feet, back, face, legs–you name it, it hurt. It took me several weeks of recuperation before I felt comfortable shaking someone’s hand, and a few more for one of my fingers to stop popping when I straightened it.
But I also have very fond memories of my time in Yuma. The crew members were great, the foreman was actually pretty cool, and each day I learned something new. Midway through my time, I purchased a weird looking one-time-use video camera from CVS for $30 or so. In the fields, many crew members saw the camera and said, “That’s just so you’ll have proof that you were here–or else your friends won’t believe you.” Basically, they were right. Sometime last year, with the editing help of my partner/wife Daniella, we put a short piece together of the footage, which I’ve posted below. Soon I’ll also be posting video from the other jobs. Hope you enjoy!
Have a good weekend, don’t get into any fistfights with anti-immigrant teabaggers, and if you happen to eat a salad, take a moment to give thanks to the mighty hands that cut it.