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Estelle was huffing and puffing. Not that she'd exerted herself in any way; she remained reclining on the sofa in the bedroom wing, where she'd been since she got out of bed. Nor did the causation of her breathlessness lie in some physical ailment. Her face was florid and she gasped for air, nonetheless. 'Twas anger; no, pure unfettered rage, that caused Estelle's symptoms. She dialed the phone furiously (as furiously as one can dial a phone).

"Oy veh ist mir in mein kopf! Shirl, you'll never believe what's going on around here. Those crazy cucarachas have done it now! All called in sick. I told Inez I'd be alone in the house and she just didn't care."

"No, they didn't!" Shirley replied. "Inez, too? All of them? Just like my Luisa — and Jorge. Jorge, Jorge, Jorge, who woulda thought Jorge."

"I don't even know if I have any food in the house. I'm too verklempt to make anything. You wanna meet at the Ess-A-Bagel on Second Avenue?

"Fech. Who wants to get dressed?" Shirley sounded despondent.

"But you have to eat something." Estelle didn't want to go out either (she'd miss Martha Stewart on TV) but she knew she had no choice.

"Okay. I'll see you in a half an hour." Shirley hung up the phone.

Estelle got up, took off her housedress and went about the business of getting ready to go outside. As she did so, she mumbled mild swear words and vague curses under her breath.


"They told me their delivery guys all called in sick today."

"Get Danny from the mail room to go, then, dammit!" Arlene's voice became higher (and more severe) at the end of her sentence. Not unlike Arlene's severe, upswept hairdo or the severe, upswept edges of her cat-eye glasses

Sandy sat back down and dialed. She and supervising administrator Arlene, waited for what seemed like forever. Sandy finally hung up.

"Nobody's answering. I'll go."

"Try Danny again; I'd hate to put you out ..." Arlene's voice faded away (she felt guilt; she wasn't a sociopath after all).

"I'll go downstairs and see if Danny's there. If not, I'll go. Attorney McCullough will be cross if they don't get the deli platter by one o'clock."

Arlene did her best to act grateful. "You're always so thoughtful, Sandy." (Forced "sincere" look. Through cat-eye glasses.)

Sandy couldn't find Danny. The mail room was empty. So she went back upstairs, put on a sweater, and went down to the New York Deli-Rama on the corner. A handwritten sign taped to the front door announced, "NO DELIVERY TODAY SORRY."

Inside the New York Deli-Rama on Third Avenue all hell was breaking loose. Instead of the eight people who usually manned the counter, there were four. Customers waited on a line that snaked its way nearly all around the small shop.

As the man behind the counter finally handed Sandy the deli platter for Attorney McCullough's conference room, he apologized that she'd had to come get it, and said something about the "demonstrators screwing everything up...

and that'll be seventy-eight fifty-five, please."

Sandy made sure to get the receipt. She awkwardly balanced the large bag of sodas, condiments and napkins on top of the rather large, yet flimsy tray containing the sandwiches. It was a daunting task, this. It became more daunting when she had to stop in the lobby of her building and sign back in.


Theresa reached for the rinse sprayer yet again. She'd loaded what seemed like her hundredth rack of dishes that morning. The gushing hot water caromed off of a cereal bowl just right and pretty much saturated her from head to toe. Her scream began as a growl, and then escalated to a wail.

"Tony I can't fuckin' take this any more! What the fuck!" She let the sprayer go from her hand. The rubber part of the spray-head bounced off the wall and on its way back hit Theresa in the shoulder rather sharply, agitating her more.

Tony wanted to tell Theresa that he'd fire the jerks who called in sick today. But if he did fire them, he'd just be inviting trouble. Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.

"Lemme just catch up here and I'll do the rest of them dishes, hon." Tony always tried to speak with a calming voice when Theresa threw a fit, but never told her to calm down. No sense in making things worse by attempting in any way to convince her that keeping a level head is the best thing to do in a situation like this.

Just then Eileen swooped into the kitchen. She took one look at Theresa and, biting her cheek to stifle a laugh, swooped out of the kitchen.


On Broadway, just south of Union Square Park, Inez, Luisa, Jorge, Danny, the delivery staff from the New York Deli-Rama, and the entire kitchen staff of Teri and Tony's Diner were among the thousands of others in the teeming crowd. The sun shone down, warming the faces: white, black, brown, yellow.

At exactly 12:15, every one in the crowd linked arms with the persons next to them, forming a human chain. The speeches continued over the crackly P.A. speakers.

Inez, Luisa, Jorge, Danny, the delivery staff from the New York Deli-Rama, and the entire kitchen staff of Teri and Tony's diner had done more than call in sick today.


ON MAY 1, 2006 "A DAY WITHOUT IMMIGRANTS" WAS CELEBRATED IN MAJOR CITIES THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES. OVER A MILLION MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN PARTICIPATED. THE ISSUE OF IMMIGRATION REFORM IS ONE THAT IS CONTROVERSIAL. BUT REMEMBER, THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT DISCUSS MERE POLITICS, BUT DEALS WITH THE STRUGGLES OF HUMAN BEINGS. HUMAN BEINGS WHO DO THINGS FOR US THAT WE DON'T WANT TO DO OURSELVES.

OF COURSE, ORGANIZED LABOR IS OPPOSED TO THE IDEA OF GIVING AMNESTY TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. STRANGELY, SOME LEGAL ALIENS ALSO SPOKE OUT AGAINST AMNESTY, SAYING THAT IF THEY COULD SURMOUNT THE BUREAUCRATIC HURDLES THAT LEAD TO CITIZENSHIP, SO CAN ANYONE ELSE. SUPPORTERS OF AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS ASSERT THAT THE BENEFITS TO THE COUNTRY, ECONOMICALLY AND OTHERWISE, WOULD BE SIGNIFICANT.

THANKS TO BITRIOT WHO MENTIONED THAT ALTHOUGH MOST OF THE CONTROVERSY FOCUSES ON MEXICANS AND OTHER LATINOS, THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF UNDOCUMENTED CHINESE, IRISH, AND PERSONS OF OTHER NATIONALITIES CURRENTLY LIVING (AND WORKING) IN THE UNITED STATES. AMONG UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS, THE LATINO VOICE IS STILL THE ONE MOST OFTEN HEARD.

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