I was on my way away from a job on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. I was in a hurry to get to the next one.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a man in a wheelchair. Evidently he lived in the nursing home that was across the way.
He was a double amputee.
He was also rolling my way.
I heard him call for me.
"Son, what are you doing on that job?" He called out.
"I'm just visiting," I said.
"Do you work at the job?" He asked.
"Kind of, I'm the safety guy," I said.
The old man was now within ten feet of me. I immediately considered that he was about 80 years old.
"So, you don't work," he said, with a laugh.
I laughed too. He wasn't being mean about it.
"Why I ask," he said, "Is because I asked a few guys from there how much money they're making, per hour. Do you know that some of them are making just $15 an hour?"
We watched a guy lug a bundle of shingles across the roof deck.
"That's probably about right," I said.
"THAT'S CRIMINAL!" the guy yelled out. "I retired 29 years ago. I made $18.50 an hour when I left!"
I knew that he was right. I had made more than $20 per hour as a construction laborer back in 1983.
"That's the going rate," I said.
"How in the hell does that happen?" The man asked. "What happened?"
"The money didn't trickle down," I said.
"It really upsets me," He said. "I'm 94 years old and I shouldn't give two shits anymore, but I feel so bad for those guys. They're humping! They work hard!!"
He was exactly right.
"Criminal!" He said.
The man was about to roll away.
I didn't have a lot to say because he already seemed pretty upset and I didn't want to aggravate him any further.
"The bastards," He said. "I'm kind of glad I'm gonna' be dead soon. This is bullshit!"
He rolled away.
It might have been funny...
...but it wasn't funny.
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