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STORY SUMMARY: Jack Benson gives his child a prototype toy from his company as a Christmas present. When they check the toy battery compartment, they find a sad poem written in Chinese. Jack decides to fly to China and visit the factory where the toy is produced. He pays an employee to read the poem over the factory floor loudspeaker. A woman on the factory line stands up in acknowledgement, then humbly returns to her work. Later, after the shift, she slips him a book of her writings, presumably, expressing more thoughts and emotions about her life.
DISCUSSION: The obvious question for this story is, of course, do we have an obligation to know more about where our products are sourced and the labor that is being used to build them? His child shows the very disposable way we look at products of cheap labor. Also, it may have been irresponsible on the part of the narrator to put the poem writer at risk. What if she had been fired? She didn’t specifically ask for help. In some ways he seems trapped in his wealthy life as well, just trapped in a different way.
BOOK LINK: Download the accompanying short story here.
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