Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hansel and Gretel and Paid Sick Days

Vanessa recently had been promoted to vice president of her company. Times were good. Vanessa was making a lot of money and she had good benefits, which included paid sick days.

Vanessa decided to visit her favorite deli in downtown Yosemite for lunch. When she ordered a sandwich, she noticed that the sandwich maker was sniffling. Vanessa's stomach turned when the worker wiped his nose with his bare hand.

Vanessa wanted to tell the worker to go home. Instead, she said nothing. When the worker handed her the sandwich, Vanessa paid for it. She then walked out of the deli.

When Vanessa saw a nearby trash can, she threw the sandwich away. She then felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around and saw a young woman and man.

The young woman asked, "Why did you throw away a perfectly good sandwich?"

"Young lady, the worker who made my sandwich was sick," replied Vanessa. "There's no way I'm going to eat a sandwich made by a sick worker."

"Why didn't you say anything when you were in the deli?" asked the young man.

"Young man, because I didn't want to hurt the worker's feelings," replied Vanessa. "I just won't go back there anymore for lunch."

"Maybe you should have asked the worker why he was working sick," said the young woman.

"Young lady, I don't have time to ask those kinds of questions," said Vanessa. "I have a lot more important things to do in life."

"Like what?" asked the young man.

"Who are you? The food police?" asked Vanessa.

"No, we're Hansel and Gretel," replied the young man and young woman in unison.

"You're kidding right," said Vanessa. "Hansel and Gretel is a fairy tale."

"We're really Hansel and Gretel," said the young man and young woman together. "However, we've expanded our roles from our fairy tale days. Right now, we're on a special assignment."

"What's your assignment?" asked Vanessa.

"We're helping workers obtain paid sick days," said Gretel.

"What does have to do with me?" asked Vanessa. "I have paid sick days and I'm doing quite well."

"Did you always have paid sick days?" asked Hansel.

"I've been working at this job for about five years and I've had paid sick days since the day I started," said Vanessa.

"What about your last job?" asked Gretel.

"We didn't have paid sick days," said Vanessa. "A few years ago, I had the flu where I could barely move. I had to go to work or I wouldn't be able to pay my rent. Well, I went to work and I got really sick. I ended up in the hospital and I couldn't work for about three weeks. I lost my apartment and I had to sleep on a friend's couch for about three months until I was able to get my money together for a new place."

"So you've gone through hard times," said Hansel.

"Yes, I have," said Vanessa.

"The deli worker is going through a hard time also," said Gretel. "He can't afford to take time off from work."

"Now I understand why he went to work today," said Vanessa. "But there has to be a way to help him."

"There is," said Hansel. "We are gathering signatures for a petition for paid sick days for California workers. If you sign the petition, you'll help the six million California workers who lack paid sick days."

"I'll sign the petition," said Vanessa. "Is there anything else I can do?"

"Yes," answered Gretel. "Tell everyone about the petition for paid sick days for California workers. Together we can a difference."

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