I was here three months and there is still no word on the contact that would assist in getting a social security card. I was getting very frustrated with the situation and also delusional. I was dreaming of this blue & white card. I was at a breaking point at the job & having a social security card would certainly help.
The job schedule took its toll on everyone in the house. I was coming in late and even though no one said it, I am sure the noise I made getting ready for bed was not making sleep easy for everyone. I had to find a job in the daytime. The job was also a place of frustration. I was constantly given the nastiest tasks to complete and it just was not sitting well with me.
I used to read the job classifieds and see what I thought was the best jobs in the world listed. It hurt because I could not apply to any of them. I started to bring my frustration to work. Even though I never said I was working without legal documentation it was just common knowledge between all of us. I had been telling Pedro that I needed to work in the day. Within a week of me mentioning it he told me about a job doing home repairs he had turned down and gave me a number to call.
I was a bit nervous about the call but I had to do it. The gentleman on the other line did not help my nervousness. He was coarse and abrupt. He asked me a few questions mainly on me getting work and if I would accept the pay rate. He did not seem concerned that I had no experience in home repairs but mainly I could make it on time. He then told me I had the job & could start within the week. I would have to be up by 4’o clock in the morning. At first, I wondered why but the Florida heat that first day was more than enough explanation. I would have to take 2 buses to get to the place where I would meet my new boss. I was excited about the prospect of a new job especially because it was now regular hours. Actually I would be leaving work at 3:00 pm.
I hate to use the cliche but I remember the first day like yesterday. I was up by 4:00 am that morning and was out to the bus stop which was about 5 minutes away from the house. I did a dry run the Sunday afternoon before the first day of work. That Sunday I stepped on the bus & dropped my coins in the ‘fare collector machine’ by the driver and sat near the front. The bus system here was very different. The bus was long, no conductors, nice clean interior, plenty of empty seats, air-conditioned and no music. I think only 6 others got on the bus during my whole journey. It was really quite being that is was Sunday and I got a really good tour on the way to my destination. I got off the bus the crossed the street to catch the next bus to my final destination. I did everything in about an hour n half. The ride back was basically much of the same.
The Monday morning arrived and I was ready to go. I walked out of the bus stop and waited. The bus took a little longer to come. I got on the bus and things seem to be very different. I was the second passenger on the bus. The ride to my destination was much longer this time around. The stopped at every stop & more & more people got on. The bus became crowded in no time & by the time I got to the stop where I would get on the second bus, it was empty again. The bus I got on to was packed with school kids. The school kids were loud & vulgar. I was amazed at how disrespectful of adults they were. Swearing like sailors, using words that would have gotten me killed by an adult in Jamaica.
The white Ford truck my new boss had mentioned awaited me at my destination. I met new boss face to face after talking to him on the phone for a week. He was a medium-built man with a long beard. He shook my hand & beckoned for me to get into the back of the truck. There were 2 others in the back of the truck. There was paint tile & lots of tools in the back of the truck. I soon learned that they were Cuban migrants when they tried to speak Spanish to me. I was able to communicate that I knew very little Spanish. They knew very little English so for the rest of the ride I listened to them.
We stopped in front of an empty house in a nice neighborhood on Miami Beach. Our job for the next month would be to retile, repaint & rebuild the inside of this house. My job was to paint & help out where I was needed. Before could paint however I had to strip the walls. This job is not only labor-intensive but also very overwhelming to the senses due to the chemicals you have to use. It was the beginning of a nightmare job. A 16-year-old was never meant to work this hard. All I could remember thinking after the first day was, why did I have to do this? Why could I not stay in Jamaica? I knew the answers to most of these questions …opportunities.
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