The Standard

“Why do we work more and get paid less than the bosses?” Robbie would ask his mom every day. Robbie and his mother were day laborers, working around the city for daily wages through a contractor.
“Because work is a privilege, Robbie. We should take what we get and be happy with it,” his mother would always reply with her sights lowered to the ground.
“Are most people poor because they think people will stop working and get lazy if they have too much money, mama?” Robbie would continue.
The other workers didn’t like him because he talked too much. Really, it was because he asked questions that stirred unrest in their minds. Robbie poked and prodded, asked and pleaded for answers but he rarely received anything more than a usual standard reply and a shrug of the shoulders.
“Robbie, get back to work,” his supervisors would say to him whenever they caught him talking to the other employees. They knew he was smarter than the rest of them and as Robbie grew older, they asked his mother to stop bringing him to work.
“He’s an extra income for us. We really need the money,” his mother begged when confronted.
“But he’s such a smart boy, Rosetta. Why doesn’t he find something that will help him make something of himself?” one of the bosses replied.
“I don’t want to fill his head with hopes and dreams,” Rosetta said with tears in her eyes.
Robbie was let go the following day. Rosetta wasn’t given a reason and Robbie didn’t complain. From then on, he asked fewer questions and did his best to keep his head down like the rest of his coworkers.

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