Picking tomatoes in Hammonton, New Jersey. I was out in the middle of the fields for one hour, sweating like a pig. (side note: All the pigs I have seen seem to handle the heat pretty well, as they don’t sweat much and instead cover themselves with mud. The origin of the idiom is related to the tendency of “pig iron” to form beads of moisture on its surface during the smelting process.) Anyways, I was out there for a little over an hour.
When I’m taking photos, I’m looking for clues to show the viewer what it’s like to be out in the environment that I am in. I was looking for people wiping their foreheads clean of sweat, aerating their shirts, or shielding their eyes from the sun. But that didn’t happen. They kept on working, occasionally attempting to goof off in front of the camera, without breaking their pace.
Two days later, I was thoroughly impressed, as I drove to a field at least 10 miles away, to find this same work crew picking a different tomato field at 7am, with the temperature already cracking 75 degrees. After talking with one of them using broken English and Google Translate, I learned that they worked 12 hours a day, and earned around 8.50 an hour, .25 cents above New Jersey state minimum wage. Their breaks were about 15 minutes long, and included monster energy drinks, Doritos, all served to them from the same delivery truck; things that I wouldn’t want to eat and drink if I had to be outside all day. He said they had worked in Florida, and came up the east coast to do work. He said he wasn’t too fond of the snows, and I had to cringe thinking of them working at the same breakneck pace in a snowy field.
It is an extremely hard life.