Every Wednesday at Fair Food someone different takes a break from the packing line to cook everyone else lunch. There are fifteen different nationalities at Fair Food, so when we gather around the staffroom table there is always a sense of anticipation to see what our workmate’s created. Which spice combinations, how they make their rice or bread, which dressing, what pickles,what desert they may have bought from home. The joy of all our different foods, the sharing of the meal is one of the highlights of our week.
Back on the packing line, that’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer, the work is not glamorous but these people, representing the many waves of migration from every continent bar Antarctic,bring a sense of hope and generosity and a care for one another that’s rare for a workplace. And so often it’s the people who have gone through more than their share of hardship; the ones who have lost jobs, family and friends, homes to wars and natural disasters before coming to Australia who are counter-intuitively the most generous of spirit and tolerant of difference. They are the ones who lead us, I don’t know but maybe it’s almost losing everything that tempers a person to understand what’s truly important.
These differences strengthen us but our commonality pulls us together; the finding or losing of love, the birth and raising of children, illness, recovery, sports, the unreliability of white goods, the joy of a good night’s sleep and of course food. And it’s the sharing of these things over and over, each day at work that brings us closer, changes us from individuals from fifteen different countries to people from here.