Driving to the office to turn in my paperwork many thoughts were on my mind. Did I even want to go to that project again? The hard work was good for my soul yet the situation and the comment made by Fred caused my soul much aggravation. Perhaps not my soul but my mind was certainly troubled.
How did it go today inquired Keith as I handed him my paperwork. Fine I replied except that I was white. White he retorted what the heck does that have to do with anything? I don’t know other than Fred’s first words were that he had requested you send no more white guys to his projects. I will guess however that I turned color before the day was done. I hope you have another project for me tomorrow but if not it would be acceptable to Fred if I came back for the day.
The next morning I returned to the Park City project knowing I had a lot of dirt and rock to carry up from the basement. Fred supplied me with a 35 gallon garbage can to carry up the dirt and concrete with. The can only a quarter full would be too heavy to carry up the stairs and would hit against my shins all the way up the stairs and through out the 100 or so yards to the dumpster. I was pretty resourceful and found a five gallon bucket that better suited my needs it took about 85 trips with the bucket to remove all the concrete that I jack hammered the day before.
Finished with the clean up I sought out Fred and my next assignment. I was a little surprised to see the jack hammer, however seeing it meant more work. I was shown a front patio/porch that was to be removed. Break that down into pieces that you would be comfortable throwing in the back of the pick up. When you are done load them on the truck and I’ll take it around to the dumpster.
A couple of hours later as I was about finished jack hammering the patio and most of the debris was loaded on the truck Fred stopped by and asked me to come with him to the basement. He explained that he needed to expose the footings and wanted an additional two feet of empty space around them. Another 85 or so buckets of dirt and gravel I thought. I went back to work loading the concrete on the truck knowing what I had to do for the afternoon.
Back from lunch and ready to start digging I sought a shovel. Fred I could use a shovel is there one around I asked. A few minutes later Fred came down the stairs with a shovel. Sort of it looked like a shovel except for the duct tape wrapped around the middle. I took the shovel and instantly responded with a “are you kidding me?” this shovel was taped together and had a stick strong back taped to it. I took on scoop of dirt and the shovel repair snapped like the twig holding it. I almost lost my composure however I inquired instead why he would give me a broken shovel to do such a task. Fred’s response was a classic at least to me “that’s how the last temp gave it back to me”. I asked was that a white temp or a Mexican temp? He gave me a dirty look and replied that if I got started now I could probably finish before quitting time.
At that my last bit of self-control was being tested. I told Fred I had to leave, he asked for a break or water what do you need? You don’t understand I have to go I responded as I walked out to my car and got my time sheet.Returning moments later with my time sheet I placed it on his desk. Before I leave I will unload your truck if you take it around back by the dumpster. I don’t want you to think I am an ass or that I am lazy some books are best not judged by their cover. Fred helped me unload the concrete from the truck and into the dumpster. It was fairly quite until Fred mentioned he had several projects in the area and quite often used that temp service.
I drove the hour back to the office wondering if I had done the right thing. I tried to leave with a sense of self-respect and a gained insight into myself. For the amount of restraint I showed and used not to just verbally shred Fred for the shovel after holding such contempt for the labor he hires he should certainly provide a piece of equipment that is able to complete the task. Judging my color and looks as to whether or not I would perform the task. Cheap pay would indicate cheap help what did he want for 9 dollars an hour? Should he not expect the same as one would expect of a broken shovel? Why didn’t he have a regular guy working for him and pay a little more. The racial implications were bothersome yet not to my conscience. I had peace with the issue even though a crane would be needed to lift the garbage can full of rocks in the basement, Even then the bottom of the can would probably fall out!
I stopped in the office at the temporary labor place to check on any opportunities other than labor. Keith said he did have one it was up at the Park City location I had been at before. The pay has gone up if you want to go we would give you 10.50 an hour even after the can I thought. I just walked out the door shaking my head… They have yet to call however I am hopeful that things will change for the better. Most of all however I am grateful for the interesting opportunity to see another perspective regarding labor and our workplaces.