This series is about working with a 27-year-old homeless man I hired to help me (and him). I first met him two years ago when his pal was flying a sign — “Will work for money” — at the Wal-Mart exit. Here, I call him Heathcliff (from Bronte’s Wuthering Heights), but when he’s having an “UP” day, I call him “Heathy.”
Monday, September 17
He arrived Monday morning after 9 a.m. as agreed so I could enjoy my morning yoga and meditation routine. I offered him tea, said we needed to talk first.
“Where were you Saturday?”
He said he was “catching up with farmers” at the Farmer’s Market. And I missed my weekly trip to that market because I had waited for him, expecting him to arrive at any moment.
“You could have stopped by here first or called to let me know of your change in plans. You said you’d be here. What we’re doing isn’t just work created for you. Cleaning out that garage affects me, the tenants (three people), Spencer who is scheduled to haul the junk to the dump, Bill and his crew, who are scheduled to pour concrete. I can’t do this by myself and only agreed to do it in September because you agreed to help me. You are an important part of this job. I need to hear from you now whether or not you’re committed to going the distance.”
“I know what it’s like to wait and be disappointed when someone doesn’t keep their agreement.”
“So: are you committed to this job?”
“Thank you. Because I generally keep everything in my head, I decided to share it with you, so you’ll understand what’s happening. Here’s your copy of the tasks to be completed – by you and by me – and below are the deadlines. Please sign on the line that says you are committed to going the distance and meeting those deadlines. I’ll take that copy and here’s yours. Are we good?”
He seemed pleased that it was in writing – enough work for two more weeks.
“All right, then. Now you’re on the clock.” I listed his jobs for the day: stain the staircase and prep and stain the handrails on the deck only. I explained that he couldn’t do the steps until a day I wasn’t needed in the garage because it was my only egress; I’d be stuck in my apartment if he stained the steps.
The other job was prepping the garage for a handyman and son who were coming to patch cracks with mortar: clearing space for them to work.
There were pallets piled high with boxes against the lengthwise walls. With a dirt floor, moving that stuff is complicated: move the boxes, then the pallets, and then load the boxes up again.
“The dad is about my height, but his son is even taller than you are.” I bent over and touched the handrail to indicate the dad’s space. “What do you think? About three feet?”
“OK, now you be the son and do it… Looks like about four feet will be enough.
At the garage, he quickly went inside and lifted the double-car garage door. I was stunned by the nightmare in the southeast corner – that horrible ‘add-on’ room built by a previous tenant, the ugly, junky thing in my southeast (Feng Shui “prosperity”) corner. Had some part of me felt this way every time I opened the door?
“I need you to finish removing that eyesore in the corner first.” It was just a skeleton now, but it revealed more junk overhead! “Can you get that stuff out of the rafters?”
He climbed the ladder. “Looks like casements for grow lights, like those used to grow marijuana.”
“Well, the previous owner did grow pot in the crawl space, but there he used a single giant light bulb.”
Heathy said he could, and asked if he could have the metal to recycle. “Of course!” I listed where I’d be and what I’d be doing.
In an hour or so, I came back to check on him, and he’d already finished that project.
So, once he was set up with all the accouterments required for the staining job, we went our separate ways again until lunchtime.
I made an organic lunch that we shared on the deck. I was hoping to learn more about Heathy, but he talked about Dr. Gundry’s diet because my sandwich was on Ezekiel bread and he had asked for Romaine lettuce instead.
“Have you heard of him?”
“Sure. I’m taking his PreBioThrive for “wrecked guts” to mitigate the damage from surgery antibiotics. But I don’t agree with his one-size-fits-all diet which is mostly Paleo. He says bread and grains are bad for you, but I follow D’Adamo’s blood-type diet, and sprouted grains and legumes (including peanuts) are good for type A’s. His plan is mostly for Blood-type O’s and people who eat too many refined carbohydrates, like cookies and doughnuts. What about Zach Bush? Have you seen his videos?”
He had and went on about how some of those farmers at the market didn’t put much emphasis on the source of seeds. He talked about the destruction of the soil from chemicals like Monsanto’s Round-Up and the effects it had on living beings.
I was so proud of him — not only for being informed but for applying in his own life what he’d learned.
When we’d finished lunch, I said I’d wash the dishes so he could go ahead and get started on ‘creating space’ in the garage. “You’re on the clock.”
By the end of the day, Heathy had completed everything he intended and more:
- Spent 3 hours in the morning on the stain and 2 hours in the garage.
- Cleaned the brushes and stored all the stain stuff in the garage.
- Cleaned the garage window of cobwebs and cleaned the broom he used.
- Coiled the old green hose and secured it with 2 zip ties for the thrift store.
- Swept the platform
- Finished breaking down the “add-on room” in the SE corner
- Removed the metal junk and half table from the rafters
I did the “gardening supplies:”
- Removed everything from the gardening shelves
- Collected all plant pots
- Took them to the yard where I cleaned them with the hose
- Arranged them in the sun so they could dry
- Took inventory of donations in case I itemize this year
- Boxed it all up and loaded my car
- Delivered them to the Humane Society Thrift Store
I gave him a tip (extra $3/hour, mostly for just doing the job without arguing), so he earned $90 for 5 hours. Before he left, I thanked him for his help, told him he’d be applying a second coat of stain tomorrow and doing the stair steps and handrails after I talked with Mark and Clayton because I’d be the “princess in the tower” until at least 4 pm. (And I so looked forward to that!)
Will he show up tomorrow? I’m counting on it!
Till next time —
“Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Tzaddi
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