• roofers •

A couple of days ago, a crew of Spanish speaking ‘roofers’ replaced the roof on the property next to mine. These men were three stories up, in the heat of the day, from sunup to sundown. They did the entire job in a day and a half, including removal of the old roof. They did a very good job, and the new roof looks super.

At the end of day one, as they were packing up, I ventured to talk to one of the men. My Spanish is rudimentary, but we got along well. I didn’t ask where he was from, but he volunteered that they were living in Houston. He was impressed that I had attempted to communicate in the language he knew best. He asked about it, how it was that I could speak Spanish, and I told him, “Soy de Tejas.” He wanted to know, which part. I said, “Corpus Christi.”

Also, he had some English, and his manner was gentle. So I spoke in Spanish and he, mostly in English. It was fun, and we spoke openly about the current, shameful, state of affairs in this country. I was glad to disabuse him (and his mates, those who could hear) of the notion that their presence is unwelcome, and assured him that a majority of ‘Americans’ consider Trump to be hateful, crazy, bad, and a terrible President, and to assure him that not all people in the United States hold the same views as Donald Trump and his coterie of yes men. He seemed relieved to hear it: still, this was news to him.

I won’t bother you further with the details, but we parted company as men with a common view, that skilled workers are needed everywhere, and should be paid according to their skill, professionalism and productivity.

We parted with a handshake and a smile.

As I was walking back to my front door, in his language, he wished me a good evening. I returned the gesture, with a wave to his compatriots. One of them, a young man who had been listening to us from a short distance away, waved back: a greater compliment than I could have imagined. It felt good.

We must all do what we can to limit the damage being done to the people of the world by the Trump administration. Reach out in any way you can. Be kind to strangers. It’s not much to ask, and may do more good than we can possibly imagine.

~ Tim Burchfield



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