Cotton pickers are wanted. Even if a worker doesn't have a bag, he can buy one and pay for it with his pickings. Many of the migrants are comfortable picking cotton, remembering home. Sometimes the scales are crooked, and sometimes they're not. For the most part, people are paid a decent wage, and at the end of the day, they can provide meat for their family.
Steinbeck returns to the now-familiar newsreel literary technique in this chapter, with a staccato-styled collage of voices speaking of the migrants' experience in picking California cotton. Both the tone and the action prefigure the Joads' experiences picking cotton in the next chapter. The tone is uplifted because men are working again, earning enough to put some meat on the table. They spread their good fortune around, helping each other, sharing information about weighted scales. Their happiness is cautious, however, because they know that winter is coming, and work will end. The Joads, too, will enjoy a momentary respite before their misfortunes pile up again.
bolls the roundish seed pods of a plant, especially of cotton or flax.