The California Tomato Fields

It was back in 1974, at the tail-end of the infamous Hussy Bus adventure, that a couple of remnants of that trip & I somehow found ourselves in Oceanside, CA. Those folks in that part of the country have been experiencing immigration problems for a long time. This was 40 years ago. Anyway, we lived in a cozy adobe-like cottage right on the beach. We were bums, but I went out to try and find some work. Took a job riding a truck that was more-or-less a convenience store on wheels. It visited various places of employment for lunch breaks and the like, but mainly it [we – I was along on a training ride with another experienced driver. Should be noted, he spoke some Spanish; I did not] went out deep into the tomato fields – acres & acres – that had dirt roads going through them for vehicles to pass. What an easy job this was. Just drive around the farms and nary a soul in sight. Then, the driver stopped. We waited. “Won’t be long now.” Suddenly, from all directions, streaming from over every slight hill, Mexican migrant workers – don’t recall them being referred to as illegal aliens at that time & place – came pouring toward us, by the dozens, all shouting & chattering in Spanish, not a word of which I understood. It was just a barrage of indiscernible banter. They all wanted stuff … food, amenities … and it seemed as if they were all shouting at once. I guess they had not much time; there was a sense of urgency. The guy I was with was a pro. He handled it well. Had done it hundreds of times before. To me, it felt that I was Custer at the Little Bighorn. I didn’t stand a chance. That was the end of that career!

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