Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A picture is worth a thousand words but they don't allow cameras on minimum wage tickets from day labor halls. So Let me tell you about Moe. He was in the hall when I walked in, drooped in a plastic lawn chair. I thought he was trouble. He's a black dude and he looked rough around the edges. Kortney told me I'd be driving him to the Port-o-Pot job site.
"Fuck," I thought.
Then I met Michael who had use of only one hand and was pretty mentally retarded but with a good attitude. Me, Moe and Michael. Great. Three stooges.
Then Two other guys who were both drug felons down on their luck arrived and the five of us climbed in the van and I thought, "This is so fucking horrible. I'm actually driving these people in my van? And I'm trying to get paid to do a job? This can't be real. There is be no way I'd be less safe in Mexico."
Oh, people are so full of advice about finding work, they croak like toads in the moonlight but their ignorance of even the basic circumstances are quantum physics to their Elmo eyes.

But the ticket is another story. This is about Moe. He fell asleep on my bed in the back because there was no room for him. I let him sleep because the van is already infested with lice and chiggers from the drag rat I let sleep in it for a week.
We were at the office at 5 am. Got the ticket to go way south by 10 am. Then got a call that we weren't needed until noon. What the fuck? Sweat was pouring off me, I'd spent $35 in gas on a day I promised to make $45 and I hadn't worked a minute but I felt like I'd been hustling for 7 hours. So we went to a river and played Frisbee and another day of my life was wasted.
But that's another story. Moe.
Moe woke up and asked for a cigarette. He was indifferent when I didn't have one. He pissed literally next to a port-o-pot, but not inside it, in plain view of all. He sat down and rubbed his face in a tired and timeless negro fashion, like a prayer or a humble moment of submission, placing his hand flat on the top of his head and slowly caressing his face from top to bottom as though wiping away sin and troubles. Then he began his story which I can never recreate perfectly because Michael would interject with inappropriate, tangential asides and the crickets chirping in the dry brush and the sound of trucks on the highways were all part of it,

"Went to Dallas last week. To help my daughter move in. I was fixing her rooftop AC unit. Up and down. Down and up. It was dark. I turn around and ran right into an exposed piece of rebar sticking out of the wall."
He rubbed his face again. He licked his dry lips in the hot sun.
"Popped my eye out."
"It's gone?" I asked. How does one react in our penniless, ignorant situation?
He nodded, "Gone. Rebar went right through it."
"You can't save it?"
"No, the doctor said he'd get me glass eye."

He asked me for a cigarette and was equally indifferent when I said I still didn't have one. I looked closer and truly his right eye was gone, a goopy puddle in its place. Later I gave him a pair of bug eyed sunglasses because any sunlight hurt his left eye.

Then we worked, which is another tired and sad tale. At the end of the day Moe said he'd pay me gas money but I never saw him again.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.