LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
So I return from a week in Margaritaville, to a 15-hour workday. The grass has grown knee high in a week. Ants march through our kitchen in columns so long and thick it looks like a toddler drew graffiti lines with a Sharpie.
Goodbye vacation. Hello reality.
Tuesday I wake to a knock on the door and find about 10 Mexicans standing in my yard. This was good news. They didn’t stand for long. This would be the roofing crew contracted to put a much-needed roof on my house. After they had introduced themselves, they began a flurry of activity I have not seen since I watched a million ants marching through my kitchen.
Everyone knew their role. Everyone moved a full speed. Everyone smiled and laughed. You can question a lot of things about the influx of Mexican workers, just as you can find fault in any other group. I cannot question their work ethic. I can question the work ethic of most people I know.
When I came home for lunch, it was a little surprising to see them camped all over my yard. It is law that workers take a lunch break. Their lunch break consisted of a cooler full of water and food, a microwave plugged into my outside outlet, and the porch table covered with a variety of hot sauces. I was told they sometimes bring a George Foreman Grill or portable gas grill and cook. After the meal, they curled up on the porch, in the landscaping, and under the pear trees for siesta.
I’m not sure what the cue was for them to return to work, but next glance they were sliding shingles into place and nailing them down. They ran along the peak of the house easier than I walk on a sidewalk.
In less than a day, I had a new roof. Every piece of trash was cleared. They circled the house with a magnet to make sure no nails were left unaccounted for. They blew off the sidewalks and driveway, including the freshly cut grass. They loaded all the scraps on a trailer and left together in one van. Vans get good mileage when the mileage is divided by 10.
So I guess the point is, I feel kind of bad. I asked how much they got paid and it was less than I received for leaning against a fence and taking pictures at a game Monday. Monday was a long day and there were other things I wanted to be doing. A few minutes curled up under a pear tree sounded good.
I make a decent living, but struggle like everyone else. To the guys working on my roof I am probably a rich American. There are two nice automobiles in the driveway and a dog in the yard. I have two wonderful kids and a lovely wife. It’s almost a cliché of the American Dream.
It’s all nice, but would we be happier if we were a little more grateful for what we do have instead of trying to get more? Maybe I should brown bag it for lunch and carpool to work.
Next time you see me at a game I will be smiling. I will be the one pulling a cooler.