Another struggling workforce hidden in plain sight

eggrollsThere are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonald’s—by a factor of three. That surprised me.

Less surprising, in this superb story by Lauren Hilgers in The New Yorker, is the hardscrabble life of the kitchen workers cranking out all those egg rolls. Her main character, Rain, is working off a debt of seventy thousand dollars paid to the snakehead (think coyote) who brought him here. Here’s an excerpt:

Rain was born in a village in rural China. He had left his family, walked through a desert, and gone tens of thousands of dollars into debt to reach the United States. From Manhattan, he had taken a late-night Chinatown bus, which stopped at freeway off-ramps to discharge other restaurant workers, whose bosses picked them up and took them to strip malls along Interstate 95. He was in his fourth year of restaurant work and felt a growing pride in his fried noodles and sautéed shrimp.

Read the full story:

The Kitchen Network
America’s underground Chinese restaurant workers
The New Yorker, October 13, 2014