Zone Policeman 88; a close range study of the Panama canal and its workers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 178 pages of information about Zone Policeman 88; a close range study of the Panama canal and its workers.
and whose ice-box will hold one more cold-storage chicken, would not think of sitting in at bridge with Mrs. Y, whose husband gets $150.  As for being black, or any tint but pure “white”!  Even an Englishman, though he may eat in the same hotel if his skin is not too tanned, is accepted on staring suffrance.  As for the man whose skin is a bit dull, he might sit on the steps of an I. C. C. hotel with dollars dribbling out of his pockets until he starved to death—­and he would be duly buried in the particular grave to which his color entitled him.  A real American place is the Zone, with outward democracy and inward caste, an unenthusiastic and afraid-to-break-the-conventions place in play, and the opposite at work.

Yet with it all it is a good place in which to live.  There you have always summer, jungled hills to look on by day and moonlight, and to roam in on Sunday—­unless you are a policeman seven days a week.  It is possible that perpetual summer would soon breed quite a different type of American.  The Isthmus is nearly always in boyish—­or girlish—­good temper.  Zone women and girls are noted for plump figures and care-free faces.  And there is a contentment that is more than climatic.  There are no hard times on the Zone, no hurried, worried faces, no famished, wolfish eyes.  The “Zoner” has his little troubles of course,—­the servant problem, for instance, for the Jamaican housemaid is a thorn in any side.  Now and then we hear some one wailing, “Oh, it gets so—­tiresome!  Everybody’s shoveling dirt or talking about the other fellow.”  But he knows it isn’t strictly true when he says it and that he is kicking chiefly to keep in practice.  Every one is free from worries as to job, pay, house, provisions, and even hospital fees, and the smoothness of it all, perhaps, gets on his nerves at times.  I question whether “the Colonel” himself loses much sleep when a chunk of the hill that bears up his residence lets go and pitches into the canal.  It sets one to musing at times whether the rock-bound system of the Incas was not best after all,—­a place for every man and every man in his place, each his allotted work, which he was fully able to do and getting Hail Columbia if he failed to do it.

Which brings up the question of results in labor under the pseudo-socialist Zone system.  Most American employees work steadily and take their work seriously.  It is as if each were individually proud of being one of the chosen people and builders of the greatest work of modern times.  Yet the far-famed “American rush” is not especially prevalent.  The Zone point of view seems to be that no shoveling is so important, even that of digging a ditch half the ships of the world are waiting to cross, that a man should bring upon himself a premature funeral.  The common laborers, non-Americans, almost dawdle.  There are no contractor’s Irish straw-bosses to keep them on the move.  The answer to the Socialist’s scheme of having the government run all big building enterprises is to go out and watch any city street gang for an hour.

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Zone Policeman 88; a close range study of the Panama canal and its workers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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