Behind a U-haul truck and with a friend next to me, spent yesterday til sunset moving stuff. Sweating and carrying furniture for my friend and family to get settled is totally worth the exhaustion and its salty sweat feels so good on skin that I don’t wanna wash it for a couple days. After loading, we realized we need more man power. I steered the truck and headed for boystown. The U-haul office there has day laborers lurking around all day. They will take any gig from plowing snow to theater acting. Once we pulled up, a bunch of them surrounded the car, a mix of junkies to immigrants. The moment I blurted out “movers” they opened the door and tried getting in. I got out and said dudes take it easy. I only need two guys. I noticed two of them across the street that were just chilling and watching the mayhem in amusement. One of them was a burly dude puffing on a cigarette and the other one was a small yet agile looking black guy. They got in and we got going. The big man was mostly quiet but his friend told me a drop of his life story while we were en route. Clyde, 50 years old born in south side Chicago, does everything from moving and construction to gardening. After many years in east and west coast, he lives in Bronzeville with his girlfriend. He briefly lived the gang life in his teens but he says the gang morals and methods then is far from the gang thuggery today. Clyde started competitive running those years and raced in downstate competitions. I asked him why didn’t you continue? He said: Family. Fell in love with a Mexican girl and tied the knot and and I started working. Our three kids are now grown and live in Ohio. His son was shot when he was 19 and survived. He showed me a picture of him on his phone. Clyde is divorced but said is still friends with his ex wife. He does some work for a millionaire in the area and plans to pass it on to his son after retiring. I asked is life difficult for you? He said: No. I make good money and people help me out. His weathered and worn out face and the all the unknown years between his youth and today made me yearn for a question: Have you ever been locked up? He said: Yes. But it’s all behind me now. I asked what was it for? He said: won’t get into that but let’s just say I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I asked: What’s your favorite kind of labor work? He said: painting houses. Because afterwards, I like seeing their faces once they see their place in a different color.
Chicago – Summer 2014