Would I raise the minimum wage if I’m elected? Well, when I was growing up, my family didn’t have a whole lot of money. I mean almost none. We lived inside of a Sears refrigerator box. To make ends meet, Daddy collected lint from laundromat dryers and rolled it into little balls that he would sell door-to-door to wealthy cat owners. Daddy could usually earn an extra penny or two if he agreed to spread the lint over his naked legs and let the cats paw it off him. He would come home covered in scratches and smelling like cat urine, but he never complained. Not once. Daddy kept his head down and worked hard. He knew that in other countries you couldn’t make a living just by letting house cats claw your flesh for sport.
I don’t mean to say we had it easy. Our box could get pretty cold during ice storms. But Daddy never stopped believing in the promise of this great country. At night it was sometimes hard to sleep because he would always be chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” over at his end of the box. Mom would tell him to hush, and he would, but if you listened close enough you could still hear him whispering the Pledge of Allegiance long into the night.
That was the thing about Daddy: Where other people saw obstacles, he saw opportunity. When his hunger left him so weak and skinny he no longer had the strength to scrape the lint from the dryers, he realized he could be useful to emergency teams that need to send people down narrow holes that no non-starving person would ever fit into. The next thing we knew, they were lowering Daddy down a hole in Montana in search of some lost miners. Well, I guess Daddy wasn’t quite skinny enough because he got stuck halfway down and they had to wait a couple of days until he lost a few more pounds. Daddy told us he got through it by reciting the Bill of Rights over and over in his head.
Was Daddy upset that the miners he located were in a pretty bad way down there and had made a decision to kill and eat him shortly before they were rescued? Not in the least. He was just thrilled to have a solid job. He wasn’t even interested in the fame that probably would have come his way had they not forgotten about Daddy amidst all the post-rescue celebrations and left him down there in the mine — where he remained for a full 72 hours until the local sheriff was like, “Oh shit!”
By then everyone had forgotten about what Daddy had done for the miners — or, that is, everyone except that one miner who attacked Daddy with a 2×4 for fear he might say something about the whole “trying to eat him” business. But, to Daddy, that was all part of a good day’s work. It was going to take a lot more than permanent damage to his spinal column to keep him from living his dreams. Based on the look in his eyes when he limped back to our refrigerator box, you would have thought Daddy had just won the lottery. So what he if he also had a horrible hacking cough from all those hours in the mine. Daddy told us he was happy to be coughing for most of the day because in other countries people had even worse coughs — and even more open wounds!
No sir, Daddy wasn’t about to give in just because of a cough that would often cause him to drop to his knees and convulse for 15-to-20 minutes at a clip. The very next day, he went right back to looking for work. And you can bet he would have found another job had he not passed out after an especially bad coughing fit and landed on that 90-year-old woman and been convicted of sexual assault.
I’ll never forget the smile on Daddy’s face when we’d visit him in prison. At least, we thought it was a smile. The other prisoners would beat Daddy pretty bad, and so it was sort of hard to tell if he was smiling or wincing in agony. In any case, Daddy said the beatings were a good thing because afterwards his grotesquely swollen body would be red, white, and blue — just like the flag pin he always wore on his prison uniform.
I was still a kid then, and I didn’t understand. I asked Daddy why there weren’t any stars on his body flag. Daddy said it was okay because he would see stars while his cellmates were pummeling him.
I sure do wish I’d had the chance to say goodbye to Daddy before he was tasered to death by that hungover prison guard. (I guess some men can only listen to another man sing “You’re a Grand Old Flag” so many times.) But I’ll never forget the valuable lessons he taught me.
And so, no, in answer to your question, I would not raise the minimum wage.