This series is about working with a 27-year-old man who chose to be homeless, whom I hired to help me clear out my double-car, dirt-floor garage that was piled high with boxes and maintenance paraphernalia. 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), “Heathy” when he’s having an “UP” day, or just “The Drifter” when he’s being … difficult.
Wednesday, October 3
At 8 a.m., while I was setting out the dumpsters for pick-up, a man approached me and asked, “Do you know Pam Young?”
“I am she,” I said.
His face took on a smirky grin compelling me to look into my response later. He explained that in this heavy rain, concrete guys need inside work and that Bill had sent them to pour concrete. I pointed to the path between the fence and my house and said, “Go there. Both doors are open. I’m right behind you.”
While they explored the open space, I got to ask re’ my concern about water in the garage because it is lower than street level. The guy in charge said the slab would stop any water coming off the street unless I also paved that distance. I told him I had no intention of doing that. One of the other contractors who gave an estimate had told me it was best to leave the ground to soak up water from the snow.
He added that I’d have to hire a garage door guy to adjust my door because it won’t close properly until I do.
So many unexpected things to consider about getting a concrete slab!
When I saw the man I thought was “that guy in charge” going to fetch something from a truck in front, I stopped him. It was not him, but one of the team. I asked him when I should tell the garage door guy to come and he said, “Wait. We can put a slope on the slab so the door might be okay as is. And you can put your things back inside tomorrow.”
“Wow! So it’s going to dry overnight even in this humidity?” He nodded. I stuck my hand out and said, “Hi. I’m Pam. Who are you?” He said his name was Jose. “Thank you, Jose. You’ve made my day.”
And for the second time working with this company, I wondered, Why aren’t Hispanics, the ones who seem to know the job, in charge of the team?
I withdrew to my tower so I could watch from above:
And then I felt a presence hovering at my front door. It was The Drifter.
I was furious. I had waited all day yesterday to hear from him how his court date went. I had stayed up the night before and typed a special letter for the judge that he never picked up. I had phoned him three times and got the same messages: “unavailable” and “mail box is full.” So I barked at him for a while to let him know what it was like on my side. And then I listened to him:
His court date was put off for a month, and he needed written verification of this job (which I had also typed and printed and put on the door for him to pick up…
It came down to this: he was using me to avoid jail.
I’m okay with that, as long as he admits to it. It took some doing to get him to own it.
“So you’re just using me to stay out of jail, right?”
“I could be picking apples for $15-20 an hour!”
“So why aren’t you?”
“I wanted to help you.”
“And, you wanted the freedom to show up or not, at whenever time suited you, and to take off for several days at a time for Rico. You wanted to do your thing instead of doing what I asked you to do, how I told you to do it: shit you couldn’t get away with if you were picking apples.”
“Okay, yeah, that too.”
“All right then. Thank you. Here’s what’s up today: they’re pouring concrete, and I don’t know when I’ll have access to the garage to put stuff back. It rained heavily here Monday and Monday night. I spent the morning re-covering the piles of stuff with plastic. And redoing the tarps on my stuff. There is no work for you today unless we can access the garage. If you like, you can come tomorrow around noon because that’s when Jose said he’d come check the concrete and let me know. Are we good?”
“Yes. I’ll come tomorrow around noon.”
“Fine. I’ll write “He might show up at noon on Thursday” on my calendar.
I extended my hand and said, “I’m glad you’re not in jail, although it might have been good for you last night with the continuous rain. How was your date?”
He didn’t comment, so I don’t know whether he got lucky or not. He had told me on Monday that he was going to call that gal he met at the Farmer’s Market to take her to dinner to celebrate his birthday. And, I assumed, to have a place to sleep instead of on the mountain with that cougar.
Will he show up tomorrow? We’ll just have to wait and see.
I’m getting to be a pro at living in the moment, fully present – a skill I learned at Kripalu in 1990. This guy has given me more practice than all my colleagues and students when I was a professor. And I believe that’s why he’s here: to help me get even better because we’re both reflecting opportunities to work on our “stuff.”
In my years of “spiritual seeking” – how does one relate to All That Is (or God, the Universe, Source) and how do we align with that Source? – I have realized that the Golden Rule, present in one way or another in all world religions I’ve studied, is the key to happiness.
And, like Esther Hicks’ Abraham says, our emotions are our internal guidance system for alignment. If we are not in “joy,” then we need to do a course correction from our reaction to that thing that we “don’t want” and focus instead on what we do want. Here’s what I want from this project with The Drifter:
I want an uncluttered garage where Chi flows freely and I don’t breathe dust each time I go there. I want to remain calm and in the present moment at all times — even in a high-stress situation like working with this spoiled rich kid.
Just that simple reminder of what I want helped me to feel joy again! Within hours I had a concrete floor! And, because this outfit uses chemicals to make it dry faster, they agreed that I could put the stuff back into the garage even tomorrow (on Thursday)!
Who knows? Maybe The Drifter will check in and be looking for work! But I’m not counting on him anymore. I CAN do it by myself if it comes to that.
Till next time,
“Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Tzaddi, a.k.a., Pam Young