Archive for April 6th, 2009

One man’s treasure…

A quick run to Home Depot and Starbucks and then I pulled into the driveway. A mother, her daughter and a baby in a stroller greeted me. The young gal who spoke only a bit of English wanted to know if it would be okay to go through my trash.

Tim had thrown out the radio I’d cleaned off the kitchen counter yesterday.

“You want the radio?” I asked.

Yes, she nodded.

“Sure,” I said. “Wait. Do you need some glasses?”

I was getting shed of some glasses and cups, downsizing as it were.

“Sure,” she said.

I found a cloth bag and filled it with cups and glasses that Tim and I don’t use or need. She asked if they could take the coke cans. The deposits would bring them some cash. We had piles of them in the garage.

“Sure,” I said. “Help yourself. I’m Karen.” I offered my hand.

“Esmeraldi,” she said. “My mother Pina.”

Her son was 9 months old. They’ve just moved here from California.

“There was no work there,” the younger girl said. “Do you need help? Cleaning? Washing your car?”

“Do you know how to sheetrock?” I asked, laughing. Tim didn’t get the bonus room finished yet. I ‘ve been waiting four years now.

I ‘ve read about people like Esmeraldi and her mother. People who went from door to door looking for work. But that was in books about the 1920s and 1930s. During the Depression. During the Dust Bowl days. I’ve never actually had someone come to my door looking for work.

I wanted to clean out my cupboards. Give them everything.

“Do you need a piano?” I thought about asking that. We have this piano that needs a home.

Instead I asked if they needed a ride somewhere.

No. They said. Just going over to Wal-Mart. Cash in those deposits, I reckon.

Esmeraldi gave me her phone number. Tim said I could call her. Give her a job. I don’t know how to have a housekeeper and don’t really want one. When I needed one the most was when the kids were little. But back then nobody was digging through my trash cans, looking for scraps and work.

These economic conditions are not imagined. They are very, very real. And for our migrant friends there are no bailouts. There is only gumption and humility and a willingness to do whatever it takes to survive.

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