Memories Of A Union Laborer

We took off our hardhats, all three of us, so no one would get in trouble. As we put our hats and sweat drenched bandanas on the ground, we exposed a part of ourselves that we don’t usually see, our full heads. Ray and Jason looked different with hair and foreheads, as I’m sure I did too. It felt good to make ourselves really seen and to let down our guard. We were literally making ourselves vulnerable, as we took off our protection, and showed our soft side. We all laughed a lot as we worked and told funny stories about past jobs and past women. We continued to open up and share our lives as Jason reached into his pocket and from his wallet he showed us a picture of his wife and then Ray showed me a picture of his little boy. This soon came to an end as the foreman came into the room, yelled at us for not working and barked, "ALL I WANT TO SEE IS ASSHOLES AND ELBOWS!"
-September, 2001

There is a certain look these men have on their faces and in their eyes. It is the same thing that is in their hands. The hardness of the calluses on their palms, the thick strong fingers, the rough, dry skin and dirty finger nails, the dirt ingrained in the skin and the tough broken down bodies. It is the result of a life of working. The scars the trade leaves behind. It is like looking at an old boxer. The thousands of punches that have reshaped the nose, the scars over the eyes and the hard leather skin from all the blows tell a story. This is the beauty of construction. There is nothing pretty here.
-July, 2000