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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter III
I remember so distinctly the depths of my despair when I got absolutely no response. I was so sure that if I was [128] desperate enough that I would get a response; that I would again have some kind of a vision, or that I would hear a voice as I had at times heard a voice, telling me what to do. But I had no vision; I heard no voice; and I just trotted home to get supper. Yet, all the time, I had been heard but didn't know it. All the time plans were being laid for my release, but I was quite unaware of it. Unseen by me a door was opening and even though I did not realize it, I was facing the happiest and richest part of my life. As I told my daughter years later, "We never know what lies around the corner."

The next morning I went down to one of the great sardine canneries and applied for a job. I got it, as it was the rush season and they needed hands. I made an arrangement with a neighbor to look after the babies, paying her half of what I earned, whatever that might be. The work was piece work and I knew that I was quick and I hoped to earn good money and I did. I went down each morning at 7 a.m. and returned home around 4 in the afternoon. For the first three days the noise, the smells and the unfamiliar surroundings and the long walks to the factory and back to the cottage affected me so much that the moment I got into the cottage I fainted dead away.

But I got accustomed to it, for Nature is very adaptable, and I regard this period as one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I was down among the people; I was just nobody and I had always thought I was somebody. I was holding down the kind of job that anybody could hold down. It was unskilled labor. At first I went into the labeling department, labeling the large, oval cans of Del Monte sardines; but I could not make enough money at this to warrant my effort. I met with much kindness in this department. I think everybody saw that I was scared, for one day the man who threw the cans of sardines on [129] the table to be labeled poked me in the ribs, in an uncouth way, and said, "Say, I've found out who you are. My wife's sister comes from R - and she told me about you. If you need a man to stick up for you and to stop anybody being rude to you, just remember I'm here." He never intruded again but he kind of watched over me. I always had cans to label and I am very grateful to him.

I was advised to go into the packing department to pack the sardines in cans and this I did. It was a much rougher group of factory hands - rather tough women, Mexicans and the type of man I had never met before - even in social work. When I first went into this department they made it hard for me by poking fun at me. I didn't belong, apparently. I was obviously too good and, of course, exceedingly proper and they did not know what to make of me. A gang of them used to collect near the gate of the factory and when I hove in sight they'd start singing, "Nearer my God to Thee." I didn't like it at first and used to shudder at the thought of going through the gate but, after all, I'd had a lot of experience in handling men and little by little I won them, so that I really had a good time. I never lacked for fish to pack. A clean newspaper would find its way mysteriously on to my stool. They watched out for me in all kinds of ways and I would like again to point out that this had nothing, whatever, to do with me. I did not know the names of these men and women. I had never done them a kindness in my life, but they were just straight good to me and I have never forgotten it. I learnt to like them very much and we grew to be good friends. I never, however, learnt to like the sardines. I made up my mind that if I was going to be a packer I would make it financially worth while. I wanted money for the children, so I brought my mind to bear on the problem of packing. I watched the other [130] packers. I studied every movement so that there would be no waste effort and in three weeks' time I was the show packer in the factory. I handled an average of ten thousand sardines a day and packed hundreds of cans. Visitors to the factory were brought to watch me and then I paid the price of my good work and had to listen to comments such as, "What's a woman like this doing in a factory?" and "She looks too good for her job, but is probably no good." "She must have done something to have brought herself down to this kind of work." "Better not be taken in by appearances, she's probably a bad egg." I am quoting literally. I remember once the foreman of the factory was standing by listening to a group talking about me in this way and watching me squirm. The comments had been particularly rude and my hands were literally shaking with fury. After they had passed on he came up to me and said, with the kindest expression on his face, "Never you mind, Mrs. Evans, we here call you 'the diamond lost in the mud'." I found that full compensation for all that had been said. Is it to be wondered at that I have an unalterable and unshakable faith in the beauty and divinity of humanity? If these had been people who were under obligation to me, the story would be different, but all this expressed the spontaneous kindness of the human soul to people in similar difficulties to their own. The poor are usually kind to the poor.

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