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. 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.
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.