Last Reviewed on March 3, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1249
It is September 28, 2000. The national news reports that as Venus and Serena Williams come in first place for women’s doubles tennis at the Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Hillary Clinton’s Senate race is going well. In Reading, three migrant workers from Mexico die in a car accident.
Brucie sits at a table at the bar as Jason and Chris enter, arguing about sports. When Chris sees Brucie, Chris appears relieved and asks his father where he has been. Jason also shows concern for Brucie, and the two friends talk with him about their lives since they walked out of the plant. Jason trusts that Lester, the union representative, will help them, but Brucie is pessimistic.
Chris tells his father that Cynthia has been worried for the last month. Brucie becomes defensive and argues with Chris. When Chris moves to sit at the bar, Brucie pleads with him to listen, and he tells Chris about the last time he walked the picket line. It began to rain, and at this moment, Brucie found himself unable to move, which frightened him. He tells Chris that he “hadn’t felt that feeling of being outta control since [his] mother died.”
Chris tries to offer Brucie support and buys him a beer, and Chris and Jason talk about their own feelings with Brucie. Brucie asks Chris about school, and Chris explains that he didn’t start as planned because he wasn’t able to save enough money. When Brucie questions Chris about his plans for the future, Chris describes a memory of a meeting at their house, when union members gathered after a fellow worker was maimed on the job. Chris remembers Brucie taking charge of the meeting; later, when Chris saw Brucie and the others in the picket line, the men looked to him “like warriors.” Brucie discourages Chris from following Brucie’s example, but Chris and Jason are determined to stand up to the bosses. When Brucie becomes upset, he asks Chris, “You really wanna know where I been?” Chris responds that he doesn’t, and Brucie warns Chris to focus on what he really wants in life, because the picket line will eventually “thin out.”
It is October 26, 2000. A school shooting appears in the national news as Reading locals camp out at an electronics store, hoping to buy the first Sony PlayStation 2.
At the bar, Jessie “sits slumped at a table,” and Stan confronts Oscar about crossing the picket line to work at Olstead’s, warning Oscar that trouble might find him if he continues to pick up part-time shifts at the factory. Oscar explains that the factory pays eleven dollars per hour, and when Stan claims that the “eleven dollars is gonna come outta pockets of a lot of good people,” Oscar challenges him to give him a raise. Stan deflects Oscar’s challenge, explaining that it is not his decision, but Howard’s. In response, Oscar explains that he makes only eight dollars per hour at the bar, that he is not scared of the men picketing, and that the people impacted by Oscar’s decision to work part-time at the plant are not his friends. Stan and Oscar compare stories of the hard work that characterized the lives of both of their fathers. Oscar ends the conversation by donning his apron and picking up a crate of beer.
Tracey arrives and greets Stan, ordering a double vodka and ignoring his small talk. She tells Stan that she has been picketing and making phone calls, but after nearly three months, nothing has changed. When she tells Stan to put her drink on her tab, he refuses, explaining that Howard has changed the rules because too many customers are not paying their debts. Tracey gestures toward Jessie, and Stan tells Tracey that Jessie pays for her drinks. When Tracey begins to count out her pocket change in a theatrical manner, Stan buys her the drink.
When Oscar emerges from the back room, Tracey insults Oscar and curses...
(The entire section contains 1249 words.)
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