Being a Day laborer Sucks

Day worker, hourly wage, day laborer

“Suck on this chimichanga, puto!”

 I am trying to make certain changes in my life this coming year.  Put the toilet seat down, do the dishes and so forth.  Nothing major, generally.  I also promised my fiancé I would stop seeing other women.  She really put her foot down this time, “Mitchell, we are getting married.  You can’t continue to see that other women.”  You would think she would have made this ultimatum earlier in our relationship, but my other girl makes a mean banana bread so she has put up with it.  No longer, though.  Thankfully, as I was about to write a very awkward text message when I received a call from my mother, “Mitchell, your grandmother has died”.  Seems even God didn’t want me to go over my monthly text limit.

Clearing my Head

I sometimes work a shift for a friend who owns a landscaping company for extra cash, and thought a little manual labor might help me forget about my nana for a little while.  I showed up at 5:30 in the a.m., hopped in a truck filled with mulch, and got to work.  Normally the fellows I am with speak English about as well as the ESL class from Stripes, but today I had a very colorful man with me by the name of Joehondo or however you spell it wherever he’s from.  Joehondo talks so much he runs out of English words and moves to Portuguese.  He is also an immigrant; don’t let the “Joe” in his name throw you.

Legal Immigration, Illegal Immigration… It’s Hard Work

As the day wore on like a pair of overused bike shorts I got to know more and more about Joehondo.  He has emigrated from some Hispanic country down in South America because he was probably poor and hoped for a better life in the country God pays the most attention to[1].  He has been here three years, and working for my buddy was the first “real job” he had managed to get.  Prior to that he was a day laborer, and his office was apparently the front of a Home Depot. He lived in an apartment in an area my GPS is programed to route around, and commuted to work by walking an hour (which is great exercise).  He now does largely the same work, but more consistently and for the same person every day.  No more immigrant Thunder Domes to jockey for a job.  He also gets paid more: $14/hour instead of the $6 he received as a day laborer.  He still works nearly seven days a week.

Day laborer for a Day

“So I am basically a day laborer right now?” I asked.

Joehondo nodded and said, “The life of immigrant sucks!” I like typing his dialogue: I never have to correct my grammar[2].

As the day wore on and my back became stiffer than Ramon Polanski at Disney World I had an epiphany: the life of an immigrant does suck.  The life people like Joehondo live are untenable to most Americans, many of which have never performed extensive manual labor.  Think about that—in a world where most humans still live without electricity, clean water or funny, informative and satirical writers you should follow on Twitter, there are people in the west who have never performed manual labor.  Never lived in a shared small apartment with a large number of roommates in a questionable area working for next to nothing; they never have because they have never had to.  I couldn’t even imagine what my body would feel like after a week in Joehondo’s shoes, probably how Johnny Knoxville feels every day.  I was beginning to think that most American’s don’t know what it is like to be an immigrant, and couldn’t even imagine a day in their life.

This is why I am better than most Americans.  I wore the day laborer shoes for a day, and I didn’t even have to.  After all, I have another Grandma.

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[1] It is amazing what you can learn when you listen to people, you know?

[2] This is a real quote from Joehondo, and he is himself quoting Family Guy.

21 responses to “Being a Day laborer Sucks

  1. Mitchell!!!! I am torn as I read this. Lemme say firstly that your writing actually makes it worth clicking through unlike most blogs. I know not whether to laugh or cry, bust mostly I laugh because I am incurably twisted. I am often thankful for my long list of stultifying manual labor gigs (of my past) for the same reasons that you are thankful for having spent the day in the shoes of a day laborer.

  2. “Suck on this chimichanga, puto!”
    hahahahahaahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! hua, hua

  3. Yes, life as a day laborer is difficult. When I lived in Austin, TX, a lot of banks in the area started offering folks without SSNs bank accounts because undocumented folks would previously have no place to keep their cash and could easily be a target for thieves. Nothing like working in a shit job to make $1,000, only to have it stolen from you.

    • That would certainly suck indeed. However, the shit job is pretty much the same job they would be performing in their home country and even though day laborers makes below minimum wage here, it is more than they would make back home. It is an interesting dynamic.

  4. I am completely spoiled and cannot imagine living in a place that would make being a day laborer seem like something to shoot for. We have had lots of illegals or barely legals come into our office and pay for things with cash. They don’t understand English or dollars at all and hold out a wad of bills. It would be so easy to take advantage, but I think there must be a special place in Hell for those who do.

    • I don’t know if you can be “barely legal” other than in pornography, but I completely agree that that is a low, low thing to do.

  5. I’m not sure if this is an area I want to delve into, but I’m going to anyways. I HATE HEARING PEOPLE SAY ILLEGALS ARE STEALING THEIR JOBS. For exactly the reasons you laid out above…most Americans would never, ever take those jobs at the pay they receive, thus the market’s demand for people who will. (Still think it’s wrong and INS really needs to get caught up on their stuff or expand the number of people they legalize each year for Mexico, but that’s pseudo irrelevant.)

    I’m really sorry about your grandmother, by the way. I know you wrote about it comedically, but it’s never easy to lose our family. You’re in my thoughts.

    • The counter argument to that, however, is that the reason those jobs pay so little is because there are illegals willing to work them at such a low wage. I think the truer statement is that most Americans aren’t willing to accept higher prices for produce and so forth if all illegals were thrown out the the wages were therefor increased.

      • I actually agree with you there. On the last part. I think the first part is circular…if the jobs weren’t available to them, would they be here (at least in such mass?) But Americans not being able to accept higher food prices is spot on and probably the REAL discussion we should be having as a country.

  6. So offensive in so many ways…..
    I think a lot of cultures work harder than Americans. I obviously just got back from Mexico. There I saw people working harder than I have ever seen in my life. I couldn’t help but think that Americans in those jobs would just be loafing around checking their iphones.

    • I enjoy manual labor as well which is why I sometimes work for my buddy, but I could not imagine doing it six to seven days a week for half the pay and no benefits.

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  8. Mitchell some of the best posts Ive read come from you blog. Sometimes I find myself trying to figure out is he just bluntly honest or joking no matter it a good read. Then I go back to think was he serious. We are spoiled here in the US and though many complain about immigrants most of the work they do no one here would dare to want. Even if they needed a job. I don’t mind doing some manual labor but for the pay and backaches I dont see how they do it 6-7 days per week. I did meet a few day laborers from Mexico a few years back. They were actually really smart with their money. They drove one car and it was about 7 men in a one bedroom apartment. All of the money they made they would Western Union back home and were all getting homes built. After they said they worked enough and made sure their families were will they would be moving back never to work again.

    • The best satire should leave the viewer not knowing exactly how to feel, and I strive for that when not just outright spoofing.

      That is exactly what the guys I was working with were doing: sending money home until they can move back and be well set. I have nothing but the utmost respect for them, and openly acknowledge that I would not want to do that work or live that life. Glad you like the articles.

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