Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Mermaid and Paid Sick Days

Jennifer worked as a chef at a seafood restaurant in Venice Beach. Her grandmother's recipe for clam chowder had customers coming to the restaurant in droves. Last year, her clam chowder had won the "California Clam Chowder of the Year" award.

It was 4:00 on Friday and food server Marcia was sick. Marcia's eyes were red and her nose was runny. In one hour, the restaurant would open for its dinner shift.

Jennifer turned to Marcia and said, "Marcia, you look terrible. You should go home and rest."

"I can't," Marcia replied. "I'm a single parent and my ex-husband is behind paying child support. I didn't work two days this week. And I'm late with the rent. My landlord gave me until next week to come up with the money. If I don't work this weekend, I'll be kicked out of my apartment."

"That's horrible," said Jennifer. "Can't you get a loan?"

"Nobody I know has any money," Marcia replied. "Because of the recession, a lot of my friends are out of work."

"There has to be a way for you to stay home," said Jennifer.

A voice from the corner of the restaurant said, "There is a way."

Jennifer and Marcia turned around and saw a mermaid.

"Who are you?" Marcia asked.

"I am the queen mermaid of Venice Beach," replied the mermaid.

"Mermaids aren't real. We must be in some kind of dream," said Jennifer.

"Honey, I'm 100 percent real. There' s nothing artificial about me," said the mermaid.

"I believe you," said Marcia. "So how you can help me?"

"My job is help food workers obtain paid sick days," said the mermaid.

"Why food workers?" asked Marcia.

"Honey, because when you're sick, the customers are grossed out. It's bad for business and it's bad for everyone," replied the mermaid.

"You're right," said Marcia.

"Honey, I have a petition signed by a lot of customers," said the mermaid, "I'm giving it to the owner of the restaurant."

"I don't think a petition will do anything," said Marcia.

"Oh yes, it will," said the mermaid. "The customers have promised that they will not eat here until all the workers are granted paid sick days."

"Maybe the owner will listen," said Jennifer.

The mermaid then left. After a few minutes, the mermaid returned with a big smile on her face.

"The owner agreed to paid sick days," said the mermaid. "Marcia, you can go home now and get some rest. Don't come back until you're better."

"Thank you," said Marcia. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yes," said the mermaid. "Jennifer and you should sign our petition for paid sick days for California workers. Please tell everyone about the petition, because every signature will make a difference."

"We will," said Jennifer and Marcia in unison.

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