Yossef is gone.
The last time I saw him was over lunch in Edson, directly after the confession. He was playing it off that he was taking the fall for whoever stashed the trees. He said that he knew the person would not openly admit to it, and that he would have the easiest time getting another job. He didn't want everybody to get fired. He didn't want to see Rhino's reputation suffer for someone else's cowardice.
So, he says, he jumped on the grenade and left. This is an act of heroism, in his words. But I am not sure I believe him.
My crew does. He parted in good spirits, with booze and hugs and all that. The perp is still at large in their minds, and this bothers me because it still leaves a possibility of my guilt.
We got back to camp, and things were different. I felt tainted, and looked for suspicion in others' greetings and gazes. There was a new crew in camp. A bunch of strong, older planters from another company that had run out of work. They had come to plant our trees because they had no more. There are less trees this year than there were last year, in total, and that trend seems set to continue into 2009.
All of a sudden there are too many planters. Crew Bosses are looking at their slower planters, knowing they can hire a pounder to replace them. The only thing keeping the weaker planters in camp is a feeling of obligation and loyalty held by management, and it is now being tested. The new faces mean business - the new backs are longer and leaner.