Friday, May 21, 2010

Inspector #13

Yesterday morning, as I was donning a new shirt, I happened to notice a bitty label on the inside of the shirt. It had already been washed of course. I’m notorious for not peeling off ALL of the little sticky labels and then having them permanently adhered to the article of clothing.

Inspector 13 had the job of checking out my shirt. I’ve been wondering all day if inspector 13 has any issues with being #13. Does inspector #13 feel cursed? Do black cats cross his or her path all day long? Are ladders placed along #13’s path? Did #13 break a mirror in the last several years?

In reading the label in the back of the shirt later in the day, I attempted to find out more about inspector #13. The shirt was made in Guatemala. Was the shirt inspected in Guatemala or was it shipped off to another country to be inspected? I’m going to assume that the cotton was grown in Guatemala. I could be wrong. Do citizens of Guatemala fear the number 13? Perhaps there it is a lucky number. Is inspector 13 proud to be an inspector? Is this a sought-after job, whether in Guatemala or the United States? Is number #13 working under safe conditions? Is there a chance in hell that inspector #13 has health care?

Then, there are the conditions under which the cotton is grown? Were forests destroyed to grow this cotton? How many people and/or animals were displaced to create these fields? What are the field conditions for the workers? Do the workers arrive each day in the field wondering how to improve their lot in life? Do they feel oppressed by their government? Do they feel forgotten by the government? Do BMWs drive by them as they walk barefoot home from work? Are these workers resentful of inspector #13?

What the hell goes into the creation of my $8.00 Target Boyfriend Pocket T-shirt? Yeah, sure, I could go into a boutique and pay $60 for a similar shirt. Any chance of that shirt being made in the United States from materials grown in the United States? Unlikely. If so, any chance of the workers being treated fairly, provided with healthcare and working under safe conditions? Is there any chance that my thinking about such issues will actually do anything to improve working conditions around the world? Should I go naked to protest injustice in the cotton fields and factories of the world?

Jeez, this post got away from me. I was just giving a little thought to inspector #13. Guess there’s no such thing as a little thought.


  1. I have the same tendencies as you. I think about all these things, too. Most people don't *get* what I'm thinking about, and they really don't get why I'd even bother to think about such things. But somebody needs to, and I'm glad you do, too. I think our kids will be better people because of it.

    I was thinking along those same lines the other day when I notice that my daughter had two new shirts - one made in Kenya and the other in Saudi Arabia. Do we make anything in the US anymore?

    You are where I was several years ago. My kids are older now, but that attitude others have of me as "just a housewife" still bothers the hell out of me. Raising future adults to be responsible members of society isn't considered a valuable way to spend your time - it's all about making money, and spending more than you make.

    Thanks for your comment on my last post. You were the only one who got my pessimistic view of the future. Smoke and rocks with notes tied to them sounds good to me. Living in the hills, yodeling might be an option, too. We might be neighbors in 20 years.

  2. That is exactly what layers of understanding is all about! It applies to everything, and your shirt was just a good example.
    It's amazing when you begin to see human relationships that way too How they started, what affects them, how they continue, how they don't and why, etc...

  3. an excellent musing on something i don't stop to think enough about. now you have me intrigued!

  4. you have me thinking too.