Have you ever done dirty work? Really dirty? I’m not talking about a few paint spatters on your old jeans, or sawdust on your cap. I’m talking about a job that, after 10 minutes has you wet, cold or covered with something noxious.
Maybe it’s sticky. Or smelly. Or slippery. Maybe flying ash. Maybe it’s dust getting into your ears, eyes or every pore.
You don’t even get time to clean up. Or, you know it’s useless to try until day’s end.
I’ve worked dirty. I don’t claim to be a hardened tradesman but I spent some of my younger years digging ditches, moving gravel and spreading tar on the foundations of new homes. After that, I hauled lumber and shingles and progressed on to maintenance and repair jobs in the basements of New York City. Then came years of home renovation of my own, not having enough money to hire experts. I crawled in mud, breathed sheet rock dust and cleaned glue from my body with gasoline.
Initially, when first donning a tool belt or steel-toed boots, you feel kinda good, manly, tough. Soon, though, very soon, you realize it’s really no fun constantly nursing a cough, scrapes and bruises or a rash. Did you ever awake with hands like Brillo Pads, dry as sand, with just about as much feeling? If so, you might commiserate with those living in Houston and other hurricane-ravaged communities.
Under normal circumstances, it’s hard work pulling out walls, hauling away shingles and wrestling with insulation. Mud and water — and sewage — add tons of aggravation, not to mention weight.
It seems like awful karma to read what’s happened in parts of Texas. The same people, and lawmakers, so critical of undocumented immigrant workers now wish there were more. Isn’t that something? They are actually lamenting the dearth of cheap, hard-working laborers — the same kinds of people they were blaming for many of the ills of America.
I find it shocking — though in a way, fitting — that leaders who railed against “illegals” for political points find themselves reliant on them to rebuild cities, especially Houston. Reports from news agencies suggest that the crackdown triggered by our Pseudo President will have to wait. First, thousands upon thousands of “illegals,” many Mexican, must be permitted to stay in Texas and Florida and do what they’ve been doing for years — the dirty work.
In Houston, reporters and news agencies have honed in on this issue. Reports show that the Houston office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is at the top of the list in the country in terms of arrests of immigrants; only the Dallas area made more. The Houston region, the government says, has about 600,000 undocumented immigrants, third-largest behind New York and Los Angeles.
Can you imagine a recovery without any of those people?
Keep in mind that many so-called “illegals” work in construction, and they work cheaply. Even before the hurricanes, surveys of experts in construction and trade organizations showed a shortage of people skilled enough to take construction jobs. A lack of workers has caused delays in building houses, rehabbing condos or renovating small businesses.
Remember, that was before floods and high winds created thousands and thousands of new structures needing work.
Wait. Maybe I’m missing something.Maybe I’m too liberal.
I forgot all about all those unemployed Americans who have been complaining that immigrants are taking their jobs.
Maybe they will step up to scrape away mold, drag waterlogged sheet rock and fix clogged toilets?
Now’s the time to get to work, folks. Why cater to the “illegals” by letting them know they are essential to the rebuilding efforts? Heck, can’t we just truck in some unemployed, angry Nazi sympathizers and give them brooms? How about those thousands of disgruntled Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan voters who helped elect Trump? Aren’t they supposed to be disadvantaged, in need of money? Grab a shovel, folks.
Trust me, that ain’t gonna happen.
You actually have to know how to do dirty work to get it done.
You have to get used to it.
You have to be strong enough, tough enough and needy enough.
Did you ever watch a crew of traveling immigrant roofers? Drywallers? Landscapers? Did you ever see where they eat, rest, sleep?
You think spoiled American whiners will suddenly have the urge to wear sheet rock mud all day, to sleep a couple of hours in a motel room with five other guys, to wake up early to jump right back into those dusty clothes? To head back out to the job site to do it all over again? Day after long day after long day?
For less than many people pay a nanny?
Sorry, I don’t think that kind of revolution is in the works.
Instead, I sincerely hope those who have been talking about making America great by cracking down on “illegals” will realize something that — to me and many others — has become comically ironic.
Just like the storms that are proving them wrong.