Sunday, January 15, 2012

Who are you wearing?

That's right, who? It's not a typo, and it's not a trick question. Look at your socks. Are you wearing socks? If not, look at your shirt. Where are they from? Your socks (or shirt, for you sockless people), that is. Do you know? I don't. Mine don't say.

What color are they? Mine are kind of boring today - tan. Yup, that's it, tan.

Where did you buy them? I think I got mine at Walmart... maybe Target... not sure. Do you know who sold them to you? I don't. I know someone did. And someone opened the box, someone took them out, someone put a price tag on, and someone stuck them on the shelf.

Before they got to Walmart, someone drove them there in a truck. And before that, they were shipped in a boat or plane or train that someone captained or piloted or conducted. Or many someones helped with that. Or maybe it went on a plane, a train, and a boat. The box of socks, that is.

And before they got on that boat, someone else (probably not in the US) drove them from the factory to the boat/plane/train. Someone at the factory put the package of socks into a box, someone packaged the socks, and someone made the socks. Maybe a machine made them, but a person still ran the machine. Maybe multiple machines with multiple people made my socks. Who knows?

And before that, someone dyed the yarn they used to make my socks and someone spun the yarn. Someone carded cotton and someone washed it. Someone brought it in baskets or boxes or bags to the factory and someone put it into those baskets, boxes, or bags. Someone sorted through the cotton to make sure it was of a decent quality and someone picked that cotton. Someone watered that cotton, weeded it, and kept it relatively bug-free. Someone planted the seed to make it grow, and someone tilled the soil for the cotton field. And someone sold the seed to the farmer and someone else sold the seed to the merchant.

And suddenly it's not about socks anymore.

It's about the 25-30 people who made my socks and got them here so I could buy and wear them.

I wonder how many of them have socks? How many can afford socks?

And that's not everyone involved. There's all the materials used in making my socks - from the plow that tilled the land to the factory that made the plastic bags at the checkout counter. All those have similar stories - similar groups of people behind them.

There are probably hundreds of people involved in making my socks. Your socks.

And those are just my socks. Who knew they could have that much importance? And to think - I throw them on the floor every night before I go to bed, because I don't own a laundry basket. Admit it - you do too. Maybe not the floor, but you throw them into the laundry basket. You drop them and step on them (hey, they were MADE for stepping) and get them muddy and wear holes in the soles.

And when that hole gets a little bigger, you throw out those socks.

Don't worry - I do it, too.

But would you do that if you knew the hundreds of people who helped you get your socks? Would you treat them that way? Be honest. But would I do it if I could see the people behind my socks? We both know the answer to that.

So I'll ask again. Who are you wearing?

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