Waialua,wine and Yohana!
I hope all are well this Tuesday evening. It is a bitter sweet tale I write you today from the North Shore village in Oahu called Waialua, a beautiful, friendly, Pacific Ocean beach community where I’ve been working since last Tuesday. Sweet I say since this is my last official gig entry for this amazing tour and bitter, feeling like it is the end of the working portion of my journey. I still have to fly back to Cali and drive home next week to finally put an end to this special trip! But here in Hawaii is where I had planned from the start to end my Gigsacrossamerica adventure and I couldn’t have asked for a better ending than the one I’m experiencing at this very moment. So this is howzit it went down, shoots!
I knew from the start that Hawaii, my former residence and beloved island was where I wanted to finish, thinking then that I would be exhausted and weary from all the work and travel. Little did I realize when I was planning my stops that it would take me almost a year to get here. This was the only gig I fudged on and took a mulligan so to speak, hoping you forgive me of course, crediting me a bit for my 59 stops and almost 40,000 miles in total that I had to endure in order to get here. So back in January of last year I called my friend Yohana and told her all about my plans to travel the country and end up on her island in six or seven months. She was elated for me and looked forward to having me work on her lovely home once again as I had in the past. Funny thing was long before I ever thought about traveling the country, Yohana and I talked about building a wine rack and counter in an unused corner of her house.
Unfortunately my time had run its course on the island and I returned to Tucson weeks later. So when the opportunity for me to make my return to Hawaii opened up she immediately knew what she wanted done as a way to help me out and complete my work tour! Only the timeline was uncertain at that point and the bigger question of course once I embarked was weather I would even make it this far. Now obviously it is all well documented and my struggles and setback were sometimes comforted by the thoughts of warm beaches and cold beers that awaited me at the end of the road, not to mention the food and cool trade winds. I was asked a great many times why I went South and East first and not west and Midwest with my charted course, thus avoiding the harsh winter climate I eventually ran in to. I wanted to end here on the island and in the end it all worked out fine despite the delay. So on to the gig.
The day finally came for me to touch down on the Honolulu airport and Yohana was there to greet me and take me across the island to her North Shore home, but not before stopping and grabbing a bite to eat. After putting away my bags we sized up the project and wasted no time making a list and off we went to Home Depot in Kapolei. She had an old 80ish counter with a sink taking up valuable space right off the kitchen area and she had seen some pics online that she wanted to incorporate with her wine counter idea. She asked me if I was up for the challenge knowing I was pretty skilled as a finish carpenter and had done quite a few projects around her home already, including a pergola, surf racks, spice planters and even a storage box for her washer and dryer. But this project was for show and tell and would require not only cabinet experience but also woodworking knowledge kinda stuff. I had no doubt I could do the job but since I flew here thus leaving my gigs mobile and most of my tools back on the mainland, I would be limited with the few tools I snuck on the plane in my pockets. So we asked her boyfriend Doug and her friend Luis, two local tradesman for help and they both helped with a variety of tools and especially with a much needed table saw for a couple of days, and off I went into action that very next day.
The weather was simply beautiful in the low eighties and the breeze was cool and soothing as I set up my station in her covered carport. Yohana works out of her home so we both got busy with our own task at hand. The first day was all about demo and patching holes and prepping. The old counter had a sink so the water lines had to be sealed off and the GFI had to be extended down to accommodate the new wine cooler. As luck would have it Doug the electrician and Luis the plumber were just the right guys to come and handle that portion for us the next dat as I stayed busy fabricating the new cabinet.
The third day was second coat day on the drywall and gluing all the parts for the actual bottle racks and more importantly making all the cuts on the saw before we had to return it to its owner. I tried my best to cover all the cuts but with a project that complicated and time consuming I needed a saw on site for a few more days. So the boss lady and I drove back to Kapolei and she rented a portable saw to ensure I was equipped to finish the job. Still as the days progressed I struggled a bit to put together the unit with what little I had as far as tools but as I worked basking in the glory that is Hawaii I quickly reminded myself of the pain full and extreme conditions of the past few month, so that left me with no reason to whine over something as silly as not having a miter box or joiner! Besides my gracious host was doing an awesome job of housing me, feeding me all my favorite local treats like Malasadas, pork manapuas, and Longboard beers just to mention a few and more importantly letting me work at my own pace. She understands my long journey has left me a bit spent and old farts like me need to sit down every once in a while!
Yohana a single mother of two boys, Theo and Owen is of Chinese descent, raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. She attended college in Minnesota and has lived in a variety of places including Boston where she became a big Red Soxs and of course like me; a Tom Brady and Patriots fan. She has worked for a software company dealing with the power industry for years now and enjoys cooking, surfing and living the life on the island. A beautiful and generous individual she is always positive and friendly with everyone she meets and works with. She goes out of her way to take care of her friends and neighbors and never has anything bad to say about anyone. I am fortunate to be part of her circle of friends!
After getting lucky with a slab of granite delivered this Friday on short notice, only then did I realize the granite needed some plywood backing. we had already returned the saw and had nothing to cut it with but a hand saw. Standing in line at the hardware store two young local brothers overheard our plight and offered to cut the board at their home. Nice guys Matt and Chris, they saved the day!
Then the only question left was to paint the new unit or to stain it. That decision fell squarely on Yohana to make; still she leaned on her good friend and neighbor to chime in as I pleaded Switzerland on that call. I build; colors and patterns are not in my contract! Once the final call was made it was just a matter of a couple coats of paint and an adjustment on the trim. Yohana volunteered to paint, have at it I said, I hate painting as you well know.
And so the dream of a new wine counter we briefly discussed back in February of 2015 finally became a reality for the both of us. The amazing part for me was how it ended up being built, as the last gig and final chapter to this wonderful adventure of mine and for Yohana, a part in my soon to be written book with a storied ending in a magical place called Hawaii, Mahalo my friends and Aloha!
Thank you all for following along all these months and stops across America and thank you Yohana for your kindness and support with this last gig. I will be here another week and will continue to post blogs all the way to publication. Take care all!
Kale, Valerie and Porter!
Dwight and I.
Nevada done Kale style!
It has been a while since I wrote you and I hope you are doing well wherever you may be. I finally landed in Alaska after a whirlwind last week of work and travel. I hadn’t had a chance and to tell you the truth the energy to post until now; I hope you understand. I flew out to Las Vegas on the 1st of March and worked continuously for six long days nonstop. It was a great experience as I will tell you and exactly what I needed to help me move forward to my last two stops of Alaska and Hawaii and this is how it came to be.
Back in May of last year Nevada was the second scheduled stop on my new tour and after two and a half days I decided to depart after no success thinking that I would have another crack at the state in the Reno/Lake Tahoe later down the road when I got to San Francisco. It would end up being the first of nine states that I would eventually have to visit twice on this journey. Fast-forward now nine months later and the job search in Reno was coming up with very little prospects as I searched from the Bay area. I figured I would drive the three hours across the state and work if I came up with anything. But my bigger challenge was now that winter had arrived the weather conditions were severe in that area with heavy snow fall and ice and on top of that my truck was still not running well and in danger of leaving me stranded at any point. As it worked out I had worked for Kale B. in Gilroy last month when I completed my California gig and he had mentioned working for him again in Las Vegas as an option since he resides in the area. I had considered the offer but I didn’t want to drive to there and back knowing I had Anchorage and Honolulu flights to catch in San Francisco. I also had planned on Hawaii being my last stop and I had my heart set on that goal from the start. I put the offer on the self for the next few days as I worked hard to earn money to purchase my last two tickets until Kale contacted me one evening.
He called one night with a plan to fly me into Vegas for a few days to help him with a few projects he had scheduled and offered his home as a place to stay. It was a win-win offer for both of us and I would be able to work Nevada off the list and still be able to stick to my plan and not drive there after Hawaii. I happily agreed and packed my bags and boarded a late night flight two days later.
I worked for him a mere 11 hours in Cali and I didn’t get the opportunity to get to know him much so I was a bit apprehensive about staying at his home with Valerie his wife and his kids. But I did get a good impression and feel for him in Gilroy and after being hosted by nearly a dozen great families these past few months, most of which I didn’t know at all, I quickly lost my shyness and welcomed the opportunity to get one step closer to my goal of covering all fifty states. I arrived late Wednesday night and Kale picked me up at the airport and then we ate an awesome sub at Capriati’s before we bedded down for the night for our early morning start.
We got up at day break, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed for one of his jobsites. I was tired as usual but excited to be in the desert climate and away from the rain and snow of the last couple of months. We went to a shopping mall where we would spend the next six days off and on working on a Hot Topic retail store makeover. There I met Kale’s partner Dwight and his brother Randy. The first task on the list for me was to help remove the old flooring and prep the floor for the new one. The brothers and I got going while Kale took one of his countless trips to the Home depot to purchase the needed materials and set up the tile guy with his job. That day went fast and we ended the workday at Kale’s warehouse painting some metal racks he had purchased for storage. We arrived back at his place late and ate a wonderful dish his wife Valerie had prepared. I met her for the first time along with their baby boy Porter and their teenage daughter Jordan. We sat around the living room discussing my tour as I shared some of my experiences of the last ten months on the road. I felt really welcome and at ease with the family and slept like a baby as all my apprehension just melted away with their hospitality.
The next couple of days we went to a flood damaged vacant home to do some drywall finish work along with Kale’s part time helper Jesus a Puerto Rican transplant from N.Y.C. , a talented and friendly guy to work with and very good at his craft. The job presented a challenge for me since Kale had rented a couple of tools I had never used before and found the learning curb quiet difficult and frustrating for me to utilize. Still Kale maintained his patients with me as he saw me struggle with the toys despite the ever looming deadlines with these projects. Time is money as business goes and remodeling is no different.
On the fourth day Dwight and I broke off and went to work yet on another job to trim out a flip house while Kale and Jesus finished spraying the orange peel texture. I installed the base board as Dwight demo the rest of the old trim. The house was saturated with pet urine so being on our hands and knees for most of the afternoon was a smelly proposition. Dwight a Chicago native moved to Las Vegas years ago and is a pleasant and easygoing man to know. He is skilled at many trades like me and has a love for old classic cars like me! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and working for him and hope to see him again sometime in the future along with the long list of new friends I’ve made these past months. I ended the night back at the warehouse with Kale giving the metals another coat of paint as he afforded me every opportunity to earn as much money as I could, a good deed on his part.
Monday and Tuesday day five and six proved to be the most difficult as we regrouped back at the Hot Topic in the mall. The deadline for the re-grand opening was approaching and the company wheels were nervous about the store front fascia not moving along as fast as it should be. The problem was the tile guys Kale had hired were ill prepared for the task and were not doing an adequate enough job. They were over their heads and their work was too slow and not of a quality expected for a high visibility retail store, so we had to drop what we were doing and Kale had to redirect all his labor there to bail these guys out and satisfy the G.C. and company reps who moved our deadline from three days to two. Now the pressure was on as all six of us attacked the stone laden store front as fast as we could fighting the other tradesman including window and electrical installers fighting for space as the ever present bosses continually checked for quality and progress. Having done plenty of vertical facades back home I knew that it required time, skill and patience to ensure the best finish possible, three things that were on short supply.
We worked 14 hours that day and got home to Kale’s at midnight but got most of it done, needless to say we didn’t get a chance to return to the warehouse and grind the floor as we had planned. Kale and I slammed down some McDonald’s before bed exhausted and hungry from a long day’s work; Mickey Dee’s never tasted so good! We got right back up my last day and headed back to the mall with a cup of coffee and a few hours of sleep but that would prove to be the least of our worries as the time crunch was more heighten by the hour. The work is very tedious and not something that could be rushed; try as they might to speed up the outcome, the quality of work will suffer as a consequence. But I am just a hired hand and that has been my position on this tour from the start so my words and opinions carry very little weight with decisions and approaches to many of the projects I get hired for. So by late afternoon Kale and I were the only two working the last few square feet of fascia as my flight back to Frisco now loomed closer. Dwight was working another job site and I had left some tools at the trim house, besides he had my pay for the six days I worked. The stress of dealing with all the pressure of the deadlines and unexpected problems that normally arise with these jobs can be enormous for a guy in Kales position still he managed to keep his cool for the most part with contractors and workers with his sense of humor and wit.
Off the job we did manage to get to know each other better with our commute time conversations and evening chats with V.O. and coke night caps. Kale is a Washington native and Valerie hails from California. Little Porter was a happy baby who kept staring at me wondering who the old man with the bread was and Stella the black lab was a good doggie and completed the family unit. Kale a staunch supporter of the current president made his views and positions clear sometimes with a lot of passion whenever we discussed the current political arena and state of the country. For my part as you know, I don’t takes sides but am willing to hear everyone’s opinion and reason for their particular beliefs. We had some heated exchanges and didn’t agree on some points as most people do but we still found more common ground that not. Kale has a fire and passion for his delivery and told me he excelled as a debater in collage: I believed him! Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to get to know Valerie better and felt bad we didn’t have the time to make tortillas as I had promised when I first arrived. It was a fast six days and like Rihanna sang it was all about work, work and work, I never even made it to the world famous Strip or spend one dollar on a slot machine or black jack table. That was all fine with me because I needed every buck I earned for my next stop.
By five pm Kale and I were racing to his house so I could pack and take a quick shower for my 7:30 departure. In the mist of my hurries I lost track of my wallet and ended up frantically dumping my suitcase on his front yard searching for it. After I found it we shot over to Dwight’s to pick up my pay, say goodbye and take a couple of pics for the website. Despite all the efforts to get there on time I missed my flight by three minutes and had to take a later plane via L.A. at 9:30 pm. so I ended back in the Bay area at 11:50 pm where my sister Ester lovingly picked me up at the airport.
I was extremely tired from the whole trip but even more grateful and happy Kale and Valerie went out of their way to host and employ me those six days. Once again the goodness and kindness in people rescued me and helped me advance as they have all throughout this country and Kale, Valerie and Dwight in Nevada were no different. I am truly humbled and more convinced than ever that despite people’s differences and backgrounds: we all have the ability to do tremendous acts of kindness to and for each other if we chose to. Now north to Alaska for the gigs guy!
For the Homies!
Golden State complete!
Greetings from Union City located on the eastern shores of the mighty San Francisco Bay in soggy Northern California. I happily write you with some good news after a long stretch of inactivity since my last post in Seattle. To say the last few weeks of this adventure have been the most troubling and disappointing due to the weather, bad bosses, truck issues and dwindling resources would be an understatement. Despite all the wonderful and heartwarming experiences of the past nine months and counting, I seriously considered filling the gigs mobile with this high dollar Cali-fuel and heading home for the rest of the winter to my hometown Tucson and its 85 degree glory and coming back in the spring to complete my final three stops. The bad news is my tank is nearly empty and running on fumes in a physical manner but the good news is the shot in the arm I needed to keep me going came just at the right moment for me once again. It was a short fifteen hour job but I was able to check it off the traveled states list and this is how it came to be.
When I arrived from the rain soaked Pacific Northwest on Sunday I began my search for work here in the Bay area. Unfortunately for me the bad weather that has bogged down my tour going all the way back to Colorado just followed me here to the Forty-niners State, with a never ending stream of storms. The west has been in a drought condition for ten years and now Mother Nature decided to bring it to an end just as the Johnny Man was merrily on his way to Hawaii. The CL in this area is very active and I immediately began to put in inquires with a handful of ads I saw in various parts of this huge metro. After two days of no response I began to lose the enthusiasm I arrived with, this state after all is the home site of Craigslist and the most populous state in the nation, how can I go wrong?
On Wednesday morning I got up ready to hit the Home Depot and beg for work there when I saw an email on my phone and read it. It was from a poster who was looking for a carpenter with experience with commercial slat wall installation, a two day Tuesday/Wednesday gig in Gilroy some 48 south from my son’s house where I am staying. I had applied two days earlier via email and by that time I figured that I wasn’t picked for the job. Not all that uncommon for me since I’ve been peoples second or third choice going all the way back to middle school with the boys on the playground and the girls on the dance floor!
Sometimes posters first or second pick doesn’t work out for whatever reason and they go to the next dude or dudette (gotta include the ladies) on their list. No offense taken of course, I’ve developed a thick skin over the years and I responded “yes” to her question if I was still interested in the job. She asked if I had experience and what rate of pay I would demand. Not wanting to let this fish off the hook I once again undersold myself to a lesser wage in order not to let the opportunity slip away. Minutes later an agreement was reached and I got dressed faster than a fireman rushing to a kitchen fire at Hooters! I loaded my tools and ladder and jumped in only to discover the gigs mobile wouldn’t start! The battery was dead and drained like my bank account, what a stroke of bad luck I thought as I dialed my son at work, hoping he or his wife were close by and could jump start my truck and tour. They weren’t but luckily for me his father in-law Armando came to the rescue minutes later and got me on the road!
I raced down 101 as fast as I could and called the site boss Kale to inform him of my ETA some 50 minutes away at that point. I was just as nervous as I usually get when I’m hired but even more so after kinda fudging a bit with my slat wall experience. Truth be told, I had only worked removing it on demo jobs in the past but never installing it. I knew I would be winging it but hoping my overall knowledge of the trades would be enough for me to get by.
I arrived to a strip mall location a little after ten am and asked for the man in charge. Kale greeted me and thanked me for coming on such short notice. He gave me the run down on the job and told me what tools I would need. The gig was a makeover in a retail men’s store and Kale was hired to install the new slat walls and be done by the end of that day. There was another guy there already and another on the way when I jumped into the project. I could tell the situation was urgent by the tension in the air and the tone of Kale’s voice, apparently the hired hands who didn’t pan out set the project back a bit and the deadline was fast approaching. Being a contractor myself I could relate to the predicament Kale was now under and unfortunately for him the other two workers he had on site weren’t cutting the mustard either creating an increasingly pressure filled afternoon. He asked me if I could trim out three door ways with casing and both end walls with 1x3 trim as he and the others continued on with the task. To add to the stress the general contractor was on site staying busy with his list of things to finish; with one eye on the progress and the other on the time. He was a good guy, patient and understanding that things don’t always go as planned in the remodeling world, but I could still sense his uneasiness as well.
As three o’clock approached the two labor pool workers had to depart since they were not scheduled to work O.T. but two more were supposedly on the way to take their place, meanwhile my fifty-five year old back was starting to feel the effects of the heavy panels, ladders and hundreds of screws I was driving into the metal slats. I had told the boss that I would stay as long as he needed me to but there were moments I must admit that I just wanted to go home from the exhaustion and fatigue, not home to Union City but to Arizona and pop open a beer and fall asleep for a week with my doggie Kalani!
By 7 pm I was on my ninth hour and still pushing forward with Kale and Walter, the only other fella who showed up to help. There was no doubt we were going to accomplish our goal, the only question was at what time of night would we be done. At that that point ten pm seemed reasonable to assume but as the job dragged on the panels for some weird reason just got heavier and heavier. I suppose the gravitational pull of the moon is stronger on this side of the coast or maybe I just can’t work those long shifts like I used to when I was a younger!
At eleven pm we were done. The overnight cleaning crew had arrived and the only thing left on the list was the rubber base and a piece of trim. Kale and I were spent, for he had been there well over 18 straight hours compared to my 13 hours. He asked me if I would return the next day to help him finish in the morning for a couple hours. I pondered whether the 96 mile round trip was worth the few extra bucks I would earn and I had already scheduled a meeting with another contractor at ten am in Palo Alto for my next job. I had a good feel for this guy and although he had a straight forward kind of approach with people at times including me I didn’t take it personal, besides I could'nt say no to that sad puppy look he gave me at the midnight hour. What’s 96 miles miles compared to the 27,000 I’ve already logged on this awesome journey? And sleep is way overrated anyways I concluded as I drove away.
Three and a half hours later I was fueling up and grabbing coffee at the 7-11 poised to beat the heavy commuter traffic filled with techy drones driving into Silicon Valley in their Tesla cars heading to the Google headquarters for the day. Poor souls, they might not ever know what it feel like to work for thirteen hours on their hands and knees or atop a ladder, but God bless them for making my adventure easier to navigate with their maps and GPS software. Lucky bastards; just kidding!
Kale is a Las Vegas resident and travels to different states to do his thing along with Valerie his home-based wife who sets up the labor locally needed to carry out the jobs. He was funny, fair and hardworking which is rare for a boss to pull off these days. He jokingly told me I sold my work for way too little and I reminded him I wasn’t their first choice so he should feel lucky that I rose to the occasion, not bad a for a half century old immigrant from Nogales, Mexico!
By 8:30 I was loaded with my tools and ladder and one step closer to my own personal goal of fifty one stops. Kale paid me the agreed wage with a little extra for gas. We posed for the official picture and he insisted on a hard core Russian style gangsta pic for his hipster homies back in Vegas I suppose, who am I to deny a man his moment! He thanked me for my hard work and especially for coming back to help finish up. I in return thanked them for picking me last (Ha-ha!) and trusting in my skills, once again proving that one always get more for your money when you hire brown. Are you listening Donald!
Seriously folks I am truly appreciative of being at the right place at the right time again and being able to write about a great experience with Kale and Valerie, once again reaffirming my belief that there are good people everywhere in this great country and world. Now I will stay a while in the Bay area continuing to earn money for my Alaska and Hawaii tickets and enjoying my family at long last!
Thanks to the Burditt’s and to you for your support and encouragement all these past months on the road. Be safe and warm!
Washington complete, sort of.
Greetings to all from the Central library here in downtown Portland, where I arrived last night from Seattle, Washington. I’m sorry for the delay but my ten my days there where some of the most trying and frustrating days of this long journey. The gig was finished since last Thursday but the final outcome of the job was undetermined until Monday morning. The gig was complete on my end but the pay was withholding up to then. It was probably my worse experience of my tour for a couple of reasons which I will explain; nevertheless it will be logged as my official Washington gig.
After a harrowing trip from Boise filled with snow, ice and delays on the road, I arrived in Seattle metro exhausted and running low in everything by then, money, gas and energy. However I was thrilled to finally be on the west coast where the CL was very active for a change and I was confident that finding a job would not be a problem. I quickly sent a few inquiries the following morning I arrived and went to the library hoping for good outcome. After two days of near misses I didn’t lose my patience but a more pressing issue arose with the Gigs mobile. The 26,000 miles plus finally wore down the truck to the point where it could break at any moment and money for repairs were not in the budget, so finding a gig was now more urgent that at any point thus far. A break down would certainatley put getting to work in jeopardy and completely stall the tour for who knows how long.
On the third day a received an email from a woman whom I will call Leah, who I had emailed about carpentry gig the day before. She text me to meet her at a flip house in West Seattle to see if I would be willing to take a job helping with some trim work. The project was well behind schedule and the door, closet shelving and trim needed to be installed urgently, all things that I am well qualified for and extremely proficient at. I met two other tradesmen there including the head carpenter as we waited for Leah to arrive. After ninety minutes of keeping us waiting she arrived and quickly explained what she needed from me. She tended to the other two guys as I walked the project. It was a mess and very disastrous even for a remodel, which should have been my cue to exit stage left immediately and not look back. Minutes later the drama began as the carpenter stormed off after being dismissed from the project by Leah. I don’t know nor was it any of my business what went down between the two of them but I’m sure it had to do with money, which should have been another cue for me to flee the site!
Unfortunately my need for work and now her need for a carpenter made for a perfect storm to start brewing. She asked me if I was interested in cabinets and all the other work the guy had been contracted for. I told I was capable of everything on her list (this is how in hind sight it all went wrong for me) but that I was on a cross-country adventure and would only be in town for a week to ten days. I also told her I was also surviving day to day and that getting paid daily or at the very least every two days was what I would require if she hired me. She asked me how much I needed to get by until I finished the work and I told her $40 for gas and food. She told me “Not to worry, I’ll take care of you”; those words would haunt me the next ten days, because in my desperation I believed her and accepted the job, and so I began to do my thing after she ran off to her next appointment. She told me she had some papers to sign, which I believed were a standard 10-99 for an independent contractor, and would bring them the next day.
I worked the next three days installing closet sets and hanging 9 door units. She gave me the forty dollars the first two days which barley covered the high Seattle gas prices and a shower 26 miles away at the nearest truck stop. By the fourth day issues arose with the last four doors which were not ordered correctly and we waited for the owner to come and make decisions on whether to repurchase new units or have me modify the units on site. I also realized Leah was just a sub contracted entity hired to complete the project and not the general contractor. I had by that time also read the paper work she brought me and it was a third party agreement, stating that I would NOT be paid until a week or more after the completion of the project and not necessarily when my work was complete! I questioned the clause after she asked if I had signed the agreement yet, which I promptly told her NO! Of course she told me not to worry that I would be paid in time and just to ignore the paper work, but deep in my bones I didn’t feel like it was going to end well. Now it was on.
By Thursday, the fifth day, I was done and after asking her from day one how much my pay rate was going to be, I still couldn’t get a straight answer from this woman, other than “I’ll take care of you, don’t worry, I’m a good person”. The money went from forty to twenty dollars a day and I was in dire need. If it wasn’t for a nice fella named Joel who hired me for the weekend to fix his chimney I would have been busted flat. Come to find out this company which I will call EB Contracting from Bellvue, has left a long line of tradesman like myself hanging with broken promises and false claims of pay. On top of that they were going to slap a 10% finder’s fee on all workers including the gigs guy.
On Saturday after ignoring me all day Friday, Lea finally said they were going to pay me $18 an hour for 39 hours worked but not until Friday of this coming week minus the 10% and NOT until I signed the papers. I was to say the least upset and felt extremely betrayed by her words. I told Leah after she washed her hands of our verbal agreement we made that she knew and understood my situation on the road and that I would be leaving Monday and couldn’t wait six more days to get paid. She claimed that it wasn’t up to her and that the paperwork clearly stated the pay time frame on it. I countered with a clause on the front page stating on line #8: ‘Unless otherwise agreed’. I then told her I would call the owners to appeal my case and then call the police to file a claim against her deceptive tactics. How else could I gain any leverage against these manipulative people? I did work well over $2,000 at the going rate with 4 closet set installed, 12 door units hung and modifications to the framing and yet they were only going to pay me $631 and I couldn’t even get that!
On Sunday she texted me claiming that they would give me a check for $400 (Doing me a favor she said) and wanted to meet me somewhere to pay me. What choice did I have at that point other than to agree to finally signing their stupid papers and hoping they keep their word about mailing me the balance due on Friday? I met Lea in Renton and she showed up with only three hundred instead of four hundred as she has claimed; no surprised there. I told her I would supply her with a forwarding address to mail the remaining $231 and she said of course. I don’t expect to see any more money once I left town yesterday, she hasn’t returned my call or texts as I write this story, but I have cards I haven’t played and I will show them if they fail to finish paying me.
Monday I finally took the truck to the shop and the money barley covered the cost of the repair and a full tank of gas for trip to Oregon. The mechanic said the joints were so worn that I wouldn’t have made it to my next stop.
I went through so many emotions and thoughts those few days and I realize that much of it has to do with being tired and fatigued with months of work and miles behind me. Anger, frustration and anxiety are human feeling that can drain a person in trying times but it was the deception and dishonesty of this person who led me on from the outset that really laid me low. I drove to Oregon thinking how excited I was to finally be in Washington just a week earlier and in the end I couldn’t wait to leave. It is a beautiful and unique area but unfortunately for me and this tour it will go down as my worst stop thus far, with the exception of Joel Mitchell, who proved to be the only shining light in the Emerald city.
Thank you for your support and encouragement as I continue on to my last few stops!
Had a Doggone time in Idaho!
Good afternoon friends,
I hope all are well wherever you call home. I apologize for the wait between posts, but as you have already figured out I had nothing to report on this page. Sometimes it takes me a couple of days to find work and sometimes much longer, unfortunately this stop in Idaho was the latter. With the weather and fatigue challenges continuing and my lack of resources available, Boise will go down as one of my most difficult and memorable stops thus far. I’m happy to report that at long last I finally was able to check it off the list in Moscow, Idaho that is and it turned out to be another wonderfully unique story to share with you, and this is how it came to be!
After six days of searching for work in what is known as Treasure Valley here in the greater Boise area, I had nothing but a backache and frost bite to show for it. Nothing I did in my attempts to find work materialized and so I spent almost a week just hanging out in my truck, library and T.A. truck stop. The stress of being so close to the end of my journey and still battling all the obstacles that by now are well expressed and documented continue to test every ounce of energy and will that I have remaining from my nine months and counting on the road. I have needed miracles in the past to help me move along further and they have come in the form of amazingly generous folks who have blessed me, dotting the map that I have covered on this adventure. This time though that miracle came in a small package with four paws and covered with fur!
On Monday I drove to the downtown library in Boise but not before checking the CL for the two hundredth time in almost a week. With very little new post to choose from I saw an ad for a special delivery gig from Boise to Moscow Idaho some two hundred miles away. The poster purchased a puppy on line and wanted to hire anyone who would drop off the fury package to her home if they were passing through. I figured it was a paying gig and I had nothing to lose since I would pass that area on my way to Washington, my next scheduled stop. Besides it could be my ticket out of this frozen, job hungry, potato state of Idaho. I sent a message to the email listed and waited for a response while I munched on my chocolate long john at Guru’s!
Minutes later they replied asking me how much I would charge and that she had two other offers, one for $30 and the other for $25 and a six pack. Desperate to score at any cost I pulled my ace in the hole; my adventure. I told her I would do it for $30 and a feature story on my book research project. I sent her the web address and nervously waited for some good news, since that trick had already backfired in the past with some potential clients. Joanne the poster then called me on the phone to check the validity of my offer I suppose. She was excited about the whole idea she said after going online and seeing this incredible journey for herself. She asked when I would be able to pick up the pup at the breeders and bring her eight year old son his gift and the newest addition to the family. I initially told her Wednesday since I was waiting on a letter from home at the post office, but after seeing the news about the latest snow storm approaching I called her back and changed it to the next day.
On Tuesday afternoon I went to the address in Garden City to meet with the breeder. The first one out of the door was a beautiful adult Irish settler who turned out to be the mother of the litter. I confirmed my identity with the lady and she asked me to hold the puppy while she administered her vaccination. Then she asked me to show her my license and she wanted a picture my plate to be sent to the owner as she requested. I felt it was a little odd but went along with the plan. I guess they felt more secure that way and figured they could hunt me down like a dirty, mangy dog in case I chose to head back home to Arizona with the precious loot! Ha-ha!
The puppy was a beautiful reddish female with no name yet so I named her ’Popcorn’ because she devoured my bag of fluffy kernels as I gassed up for the trip. I put her upfront so I could keep an eye on her and the luggage in the back would not crush her in case of a sudden stop or roll over! After a few whimpers and minutes adjusting to the seat we hit the road for Moscow, Idaho that is, some four hours away. Popcorn was quiet and relaxed after hearing my 90s playlist for a few hours. She requested some Temple of the Dog and Atomic Dog but unfortunately I couldn’t comply. I did put on some Three Dog Night songs but she covered her ears to those tunes. I stopped a few times to take some pictures of the wonderful sights and she patiently waited in the gigs mobile. By sundown we were still some ninety minutes away and the darkness had descended upon us. I was worried she might be afraid of the dark so I pulled over and got my camping light. I put it on medium and placed it on her blanket, just enough to illuminate her small space. She curled up to it and to my surprise fell asleep hovered over the warm, soft light.
I myself was tried and by then very road weary of the months and miles I have logged. Driving thru snow and ice is extremely taxing on the mind and body so I couldn’t pay her much attention but she seemed to recognize that and rarely made any fuss. I would reach over at times and dossal her babys soft pelt and found it quite comforting to me as well. I thought of her actually being my first passenger and couldn’t of have wished for a better companion after all these states, with the exception of my own doggie back home, Kalani, who by now figured I went to work and never returned! Don’t tell, she is the jealous type!
Joanne kept in touch most of the trip and couldn’t wait for our arrival. They live in nearby Deary, a mountain top village just east of Moscow. With the slow moving traffic and winding roads Popcorn and I were well behind our schedule, so after missing Joanne at her job she waited for me at a local gas station to make the exchange of goods. At almost nine pm. we finally arrived to meet her and and deliver her new baby girl. I handed Joanne her package all wrapped in a blanket including the night light, it was something special to watch, a mother embracing her new puppy for the first time! She gave me a hug as well and thanked me from the bottom of her heart for bringing her baby safe and sound. I thanked her for saving me from anymore subzero nights in my truck and for trusting me with her precious cargo! We took our pictures and Joanne signed my map to make it official and thus allowing me to move forward.
She paid me the agreed wage and handed me some deer jerky and sausage as a gift for my troubles. Little did she realize how handy those provisions would prove to be some twelve hours later when I would be stranded in a snowy mountain pass but that is one story for the blog page and book!
Thanks go out to you for your constant support and following as I continue to cover all fifty states. Thanks to Joanne and her family for the gig and I hope to see some pics of Popcorn as she grows to be a fine addition to their family, now on to Washington State!
Moses parts the snow in Wyoming and Montana!
Greetings on this Tuesday night from the frosty Rapid City, South Dakota public library, I arrived here yesterday afternoon after completing my Montana gig. This post will also include my official Wyoming gig as well for a double header of sorts and this is how this unique situation came to be.
After spending the last twelve days in the Denver area including Christmas and New Years I decided to depart north for Cheyenne and begin my job search on Saturday morning. I arrived in Cheyenne and located the nearest Pilot truck stop for the night. It was a cold and snowy drive from Denver and Wyoming was no different, white as far as the eye could see. I ate dinner and checked the CL for any possible opportunities for Sunday. I knew that finding work on a Sunday is always slim at best and the state didn’t have much to offer as it was. I figured Monday would be my best shot at anything so I tried as usual to stay optimistic and positive hoping for a miracle. That miracle in the form of a man named Moses would arrive to my great surprise and delight!
Before I fell asleep watching my favorite Netflix series “La Nina” (You should check it out!) I took one more peek at the CL list. I saw an ad for help with a move in city of Casper some 200 hundred miles away. It was only one of two ads posted that weekend so I immediately called the number and left a message, I didn’t care about the distance since it was on the way to Montana anyways, the next state on the list. An hour later my rang and the banner read ‘Moses’ and it was the number I had called.
He sounded like immigrant with a strange accent and asked me where I was calling from since my Arizona number always throws people off. I told him I was in Cheyenne looking for work and was willing to travel to get the gig. He didn’t seem too excited and told me that the job would be a short job and that it would not be worth my while to drive two hundred miles to earn a few bucks. He said he preferred to hire some local help in Casper but I didn’t give up trying. I told him I didn’t care about the pay or distance rather needed the job for a book research project which he didn’t quite understand but when I said that I was on my way to Montana next that changed the whole picture for both of us!
Moses said that his next stop was Billings, Montana and he would be thrilled if I could help him there too. What a stroke of good fortune for the gigs guys, two birds with one stone to knock out two states in consecutive days, awesome I though. He was still far away and asked me if I was solid to show up the next morning at ten am. I told him I was rock solid and to send me the address in Casper and would surely be there rain snow or ice. Holy Moses I was ecstatic and went right to sleep in my truck with a huge smile on my face forgetting all about the 11 degrees outside!
The next morning I grabbed my coffee and drove north to Casper stopping only to eat breakfast at a small town restaurant. The roads were still dotted with ice patches and I saw several vehicles stranded everywhere so I drove slower than normal. I arrived at the Hat Six truck stop off I-25 and met Moses the moving driver. He was a bit older than me bought me coffee as we waited for the other helpers he hired from the CL. Moses is a Israeli national who lives in Florida, which explained his accent and we sat at the coffee shop as he ate and I told him about my adventure. He was excited about being a part of the journey and I was happy to have scored not one but two gigs so fast. I left my gigs mobile at the truck stop and took my first big rig ride ever since the delivery was only a few miles away.
We arrived at the apartment complex about noon and the two helpers Jake and Jessica were there to meet us. The load was smaller than I expected and the apartment was on the first floor, thank God, because moving upstairs is always difficult and the weather was cold and windy. I unstacked the household items and handed them down to the others carefully as they carted them on dollies to the waiting clients inside the home. Some items were taped with blankets and removing the plastic wrapping is also is a chore as is the heavy items which takes two people.
In less than two hours we were done and ready to return the dollies to the van and the trash to the dumpster. The clients were happy and the helpers got paid cash although they probably would have wanted more hours. Moses and I returned to the Hat Six and he gifted me a free shower with his gas receipts. After I showered at three pm I hit the road for Montana and Moses was already on the road with the rig. We arrived after seven and met at the Flying J truck stop in Billings. It was even colder and icier when I drove into the parking lot for the night. Moses said he had an issue with a bad tire and a broken light on his trailer and that we had to get that fixed in the morning before the next delivery.
The next morning we went down the street to a shop to change his rear tire. They loaned us a ladder and I climbed it to fix the bad light and wire on the trailer. By ten am we were on our way to a nearby storage facility to the next client Gina. She met us and had the huge iron gate open for Moses to back up his rig right next to the waiting unit, then she left and said she would return to lock up and pay Moses. This load was larger and no help showed up so the Johnny Man was the go to guy all by myself! The day in Billings was overcast and cold but my body would soon warm up as I scaled the truck and carted the entire load alone but I didn’t care much and was happy just to be working. After an hour or so I was done, fortunately the storage was huge and the majority of the load was containers and boxes which made the work easier for one guy.
Gina showed up on time just as I was unwrapping the last few pieces of furnisher and Moses was dealing with the paperwork. He told her about my adventure and she agreed to pose for the official picture with the both of us. Everything went well and Gina gave me a tip to go along way my pay from Moses who was trying to convince me to follow him to Washington, his next stop. I told I had a plan to follow with South Dakota to revisit and then Idaho next. He understood and thanked me for my hard work. I told Moses he saved me more than he could imagine and thanked him for giving me the chance to check two states off in short order. All three of us drove off in different directions and I used what little money I made just to fill up and head for Rapid City. I drove tired but happy to be done with number 43 and 44 complete. Now I hope there is one more miracle left here in South Dakota on my second visit!
Thanks you Moses for parting the snow and ice and making it possible for me to move forward to my promise land of Hawaii, my final stop on this wonderful but challenging journey!
Thanks also for you my followers for checking in and for your support through all these months and miles!
Delivering fruit in Denver!
Happy holidays wherever you may be this twenty fourth of December. I find myself in the rocky mountain state of Colorado, in the Denver suburb of Aurora. I’ve been here for a few days now and I was able to find a job this Christmas Eve to finally nail down my Colorado gig on my second visit to the state. It was a short seven hour job but it was enough to make it my official fortieth gig and now the countdown begins towards the last ten stops; and this is how it came to be.
I arrived on Wednesday night from Kearny, Nebraska and made as far as the out skirts of town. I was tried and sleepy and decided to park at the local Love’s T.S. for the night. I scrolled through the CL as I ate and was happy to see plenty of activity so close to the 25th. I awoke the next morning grabbed some coffee and drove into town to find a laundromat. I replied to a variety of ads as my clothes tumbled in the dryer, confidant that I could have the same good fortune I had recently experienced in Nebraska. I found the nearest library and sat down for a few hours to write my Kearny story and blog page. At 5 pm I had not heard a thing from any of my inquires and by Friday morning I had awoke at the Sapp’s T.S once again checking the latest postings, so by lunch time I was now getting irked by the lack of response. Normally I tend to be a little more patient realizing that it usually takes a day or two to land something but the abundance of ads and the impending Christmas days would surely bring the work situation to a halt, wanting to secure a gig before then I continued to answer ad after ad until the right one popped up, and it did. It was an ad I normally would have passed by but being so close to the end of my journey and so tired of looking for work I called the number just wanting to get anything that would bring me one step closer to Hawaii!
The ad was posted by the Edible Arrangement Co. looking for delivery drivers and people to help in the kitchens for the X-mas rush. It listed a few locations and I drove to the nearest franchise to apply as the ad had instructed. When I arrived the young lady told me they were not in need of any drivers and I turned down the kitchen position because it only paid a poultry $8.25 an hour, cheapskates I though! She gave me the number to the Aurora store and I sat outside to call. The young lady who answered said they were good for the day but that I could drive on Saturday if I wanted to, I told her yes and she told me to arrive at eight am to sign a couple of documents.
The problem was that I would need every square inch of my truck to load the boxes and I would need to remove all my personal things from the gigs mobile. In order to do that I would have to rent a cheap room which was not in the budget and on top of that the job was not going to pay me until the 6th of January. I had to dip into my Alaska fund which I have been squirreling away for weeks but I saw no other alternative, opting to the ‘one state at a time’ philosophy. And as you would have guessed after I check in to the nearest roach motel and unloaded all my gear to make room for the next morning my phone began to ring with responses; Ugh!
The next morning I was the shop bright and early ready to sign papers and delivery whatever needed to be delivered. I met Alejandra the manager and she asked me for my license, insurance and registration. She gave me a quick rundown of what my job would be and asked me if I knew the city well. I played it off as if I was a local hoping my Google navigator, which hadn’t failed me for almost eight months would once again work its magic for the Johnny Man!
Young Alejandra had her hands full with the orders to fill, with the inflated holiday staff, a walk-in service counter and us, the contracted drivers. I quickly went about filling my list of orders she handed me as the backroom was buzzing with about fifteen or more employees each carrying on their assigned task. The cooler doors seemed like a revolving door as everybody constantly went in and out of the holding area. The finish products, the fruit and candy arrangements were beautifully craved and arranged and made my mouth water as I placed them in their shipping boxes and cooling bags. The aroma of the cut melons, pineapples, chocolate dipped strawberries and other sweet items used to put together these gift packages filled the air and room pleasantly. I loaded my truck with the first five orders and off I went. The list was already pre-programmed to a specific area of town so the navigation was easier than I expected. The traffic moderate and the weather was perfect for a driver with perishable products and all the folks who received me were friendly and happy to see me, one older couple even tipped me five bucks!
The next batch of orders was a little bigger and that took me a couple of hours as I fought through the last minute shoppers in the Aurora and Centennial suburbs. Everyone seemed relaxed and I didn’t see any accidents or angry drivers, except for me when I inadvertently cut some dude off at an intersection! The next run of five orders would be my last as four pm and sunset approached the western sky. Alejandra had wrapped up the orders and was there alone by the time I showed up from my final stop. It was an enjoyable gig listening to music and snacking while I drove around this beautiful city, the mountains in the distant were covered with snow and the sky was clear. I was happy to see real mountains again for a change and was even happier to do something that was easy on the back too!
I was even more impressed with Alejandra 22, who showed maturity and management skills way beyond her age. The stress and pressure of completing orders of that magnitude especially in a holiday scenario without losing one’s mind can be difficult for some folks of much older and more experienced backgrounds. I stood back between my runs and watched her run that crew like an orchestra conductor, never raising her voice or visibly showing signs of stress or anxiety that I knew were present as the hours dwindled down and small issues popped up. I later commended her for her cool under fire disposition and she confessed to coming close to cracking. It’s the pros who bend but don’t break under extreme circumstances that are ultimately forged by the fires that consume much lesser individuals.
Alejandra is a first generation Coloradan, oldest of three children from her Mexican immigrant parents who hail from the state of Jalisco in central Mexico. She is engaged to marry someday and is not quite sure what she wants to do with her life yet. She enjoys her large family and loves working on cars when she’s not working. It was then that I revealed my story to her and the adventure that I had been living the last eight month or so. She was thrilled to hear about my journey and was happy to be a link in the chain of fifty one. She mentioned that she and her best friend were contemplating a summer tour of their own someday and felt that I was meant to cross her path in order to inspire her on; I’ve heard that a few times already! I encouraged her to pursue her dreams, citing my age as an example of never being too old or young to live life to its fullest; she inspired me in turn!
We exchanged numbers and she promised to mail my check to Arizona once she received it. Alejandra wished me continued success on my adventure and I promised to send her a signed copy of my hoped to be published book. Now Wyoming and the cold await me to the north but I might stay here a few more days if I find some supplemental work; Hawaii can wait but not my bills!
Thanks and happy holidays to all you good folks who take time from your busy lives to check in and support my crazy adventure!
K-State Wilcats save the day in Nebraska!
I write you this afternoon from a familiar place; the public library, this time in Aurora, Colorado. I arrived here late last night from Kearny, Nebraska via west bound I-80 and I-76. This is my second time in the state having ventured here late last May without any success; but Nebraska was a different story my friends. It took a couple of Kansas State, not Arizona Wildcats to make it happen. This is my official Nebraska gig and this is how it came to be for the Johnny Man.
On Monday afternoon I left K.C. heading for Omaha, Nebraska and my 39th stop. I arrived in town after a long and boring five and a half hours on the road. I headed right for the library to write my Kansas story and began my normal search for work the next day. I saw little to nothing available in the metro and west to Lincoln for work. Not wanting to get too down about another long stay in another Midwestern state I decided to get aggressive and put in for everything that might work in hopes of landing something as opposed to nada! I went to a local eatery called Lo Lo’s to calm my anxiety with some chicken and waffles and then I bed down at the nearest Sapp’s truck stop for the night, ready to hit the local Home Depot in case nothing materialized by morning. The morning sun would shine brightly on the gigs guy!
I awoke late at 8am after watching Netflix’s from my backseat. I cleared the cobwebs to see if there might be any response from my hand full of inquiries and as usual there was none. The last few states have been really tough and I wasn’t surprised at all, not only that but nothing new had popped up either. I got ready to go inside and take a shower and head for the H.D. hoping it wasn’t too late to latch on with someone at the loading port. For some reason I decided to check the CL beyond the metro and saw an ad for some help in the town of Kearny more than two hundred miles away. I was hoping I wasn’t too late since the ad was posted the night before. I sent a text asking if they still needed help and to my delight the poster responded right away. He sent me the address and I quickly googled the town seeing that it was on my way to my next stop Colorado so I immediately told him I would be there but not for a couple of hours. He was fine with that and I sprang out of my backseat in my pajamas to change clothes, buy gas and coffee for the trip.
I battled an armada of big rigs and slower moving cars going faster than I normally drive but I was nervous about being late. I arrived at eleven am half an hour late but ready to do whatever was required of me. I met Kevin the poster and boss and his assistant Garret, two guys who had come up from Kansas to do work in a brand new Dunkin Donut’s under construction in a small strip mall. Kevin was contracted to assemble and put in place all the machinery and equipment needed for the store. I was there to help break open the truckloads of creates the tables, benches, machines and variety of other equipment that is needed to make the business functional. Lots of moving and wheeling of boxes small and large to different parts of the building, we were not alone as other companies had there crews there fighting for space. Plummer’s, electricians, tiles setters and us three danced a courteous dance the rest of the day until 8 pm that first day. Kevin had allowed me extra time to rent a room across the main street during lunch which made it easier from me to get back the next morning. He even allowed me to sleep in an extra hour knowing I don’t get too many motels stays anymore, he also must have noticed the 21k plus miles I have already logged on my face! It was a nice gesture at any rate.
The next morning there was more assembling than moving to be done and plenty of trash and boxes to be removed. Kevin is a pro at his trade and knew exactly what went where and at what moment. I had trouble familiarizing myself with all the different types of containers and boxes but he patiently guided me with firm direction. It was Garret’s first road trip as well but he had a better idea how things flowed.
Kevin owns his business and is subbed by the equipment company to do installs all over the region. He was intrigued by my adventure after I explained why I drove the two hundred miles from Omaha. I rugged Midwestern fellow, he is well organized and built for the hard work that is needed for such projects. I would hate to get this guy mad or meet him out back!
Garret on the other hand is a student earning extra money on his holiday break from his Business major he’s working on at K-State. He is a good egg, raised on a large farm and used to working hard from his youth up. He was a good guy to get to know and work alongside with. I told him someday he would be the boss or owner and a damn good one too! And by the way ladies these two handsome men are both single and available so I told them to come out to Arizona and I would help them find a nice Latina, if not then you’ll have to come to Manhattan…Kansas that is!
By 2pm most of the work was done and my usefulness had come to an end, the time to hit the road had once again had arrived; it was the kind of gig this tour was made for. If my last 38 had been as sweet as this one I would probably be home right now in Tucson or at the very least Hawaii, but then it would only be a journey and not an adventure that it’s turned out to be for me. You have to endure the bad in order to appreciate the good sometimes and this was a great day and a half for me.
Kevin and Garret thanked me for my hard work and paid me the agreed wage plus a generous tip for my gas tank. This Wildcat from the desert and mighty Pac 12 surely appreciated the help from my K-state counterparts and the next time our teams meet for a contest I swore to root for their Wildcats just once; Nah! Just kidding! Bear down UA.
Now the Buffaloes of Colorado need to come through for the Gig’s guy before I freeze to death!
Artic blasts me out of Kansas!
I hope all are well and safe in the comfort of your home or cubical or wherever it is you call home. I write you on this cold Monday night to report that after seven long days I finally nailed down that pesky Kansas gig for the tour. It was a brief and probably the shortest job thus far but in the end I was hired and paid for my services in the Jayhawk state, so it’s official!
The tricky part about this stop was the location; Kansas City which straddled both the state of Missouri and Kansas. As you know I already had a Missouri gig completed so I was back in the metro trying to score a gig just across the river on the Kansas side. I looked for other options like Lawrence and Topeka to the west but the job situation there was bleak and the weather even worse, so I had to hunker down and wait it out in K.C.
My financial condition is even more severe so every day that I wait is even more excruciating and stressful. As in past stops I sometimes am able to do some supplemental work that doesn’t count towards my list but still keeps my head above water and my tour moving forward while at the same time keeping an eye for the coveted gig to transpire! And that was the case in this stop as I will write in my blog page tomorrow with a more in-depth story.
The job was the first weather related gig I’ve done so some good came about the horrible arctic blast most of the country has been experiencing; snow! After six days in the area my Facebook connections came through again; Jim and Patty B. from across the river in Olathe needed some snow removed from the driveway and walkway and some other things around the house and yard done, so I gladly braved the 11 degree temps to help them out. The retired couple was feeling a little under the weather and I they were more than willing to help a traveling stranger with a few bucks!
I arrived Sunday afternoon with the help of my gracious host in Lee’s Summit, Keith B. A desert rat like me had never shoveled snow before so Keith was nice enough to give me a little lesson on how to dance with the shovel and not look like a fool in front of the neighbors and passerby’s’. We waited until the temperature rose to double digits and then I went about doing the short list Jim had for me, it was quite chilly but the excitement of finally getting Kansas complete warmed me up inside. I moved the snow like a pro having years of experience with a big spoon digging holes, moving dirt, rocks and mud for a living back home in the A.Z. Something that I have done in 111 degrees in the hot Tucson summers so whats a little snow and ice gonna do to me!
I also capped some water spouts to prevent them from breaking during the extreme freezes and wintered down their water fountain in the backyard. I moved a water heater in the basement and was even offered a more involving project with their fireplace if I wanted to take it on. I thought about it but since time is of the essences for me and more than one week in a state is now not an option, I painfully declined the offer, despite my need for mo money! I was glad for the work and the ability to move forward now to Nebraska where I hope to find success sooner than later.
Jim thanked me for the help and I thanked him for the opportunity to check off state number 39 from the list. Kansas was difficult and the Midwest continues to be a challenge so I’m hoping the Cornhuskers come through in a big way! Until next time friends, have a great day and thanks for your support!
Hayden, Kevin and Beth Day!
Greetings to all from the public library on this frigid Monday morning, I’m just across the river in the Kansas side of Kansas City, Missouri. I arrived an hour ago from Des Moines, Iowa after spending the last four and a half days with the Day family. My lowa job was short and sweet but it came as many have; at just the right time. The Midwest and Great Plains states have been the toughest thus far and I’m only talking about the work, not the weather. Despite the challenges I was able to earn a few dollars and move on to my next stop and continue to knockout yet another state off the list. This is my official Hawkeye state gig.
After leaving Sioux City last week with nothing to show for six days of extreme cold and boredom, I headed south for Iowa. Unfamiliar with the area and once again seeing few opportunities on the CL and other work websites I drove to Des Moines the largest city. I had one ray of hope that was in the form of a friend and former co-worker of my big sista Angela back in Tucson; Beth H. Day and her family. My sister sent me her information and I messaged her about my tour and my impending arrival in her area. Beth was excited and ready to help in any way she could. She told me to let her know as soon as I got into town.
I drove up to the Pilot TS late and sat in the drivers lounge exhausted from my harrowing experience in South Dakota. Not wanting to impose on anyone and too broke to rent a place for the night I sent her word I was in town and prepared myself for another night in the gigs mobile despite the 11 degree temperature outside. She replied and asked me where I was staying for the night and I told her the Pilot Inn! She absolutely insisted on me staying with them and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Being the shy and humble guy that I am I gratefully accepted the offer; momma didn’t raise no dummy! I showed up at 7 pm and met Kevin her husband and teenage son Hayden, oh and Bella the family lab. They placed me in their finished basement complete with a fireplace, bar and cable flat screen TV, resort accommodations after a week in my Chevy Avalanche. I slept like a rock and was able to stretch out my legs for a change.
Now I had an appointment at 2pm with a guy I had found the day before on Craigslist in nearby Indianola to do some stonework. I was happy to get going and earn some badly needed money. By noon I was in the downtown library writing my blog when he called and cancelled our meeting saying that his brother was going to do the job instead and that my services were not going to be needed after all. Back to square one once again I though as I drove back to the Day house. Kevin who works as a successful insurance agent was working from home that day and offered to employ me with a special project he had wanted to get to for a while after I told him about my cancellation. I readily accepted knowing the job situation in the area was not looking good for the Johnny Man, besides working inside seemed like a far better idea to me. I made a list of the needed supplies and we made plans do it the next morning, but not before the three of us enjoyed a fabulous meal at Jethro’s BBQ , a local favorite.
The next morning we drove down to the local Menard’s and Home Depot to get the things we needed and before the big Arizona basketball game started. The project was in install a heavy punching bag in the garage from the ceiling trusses for Hayden to use to get in shape and take out his frustrations. The bag was heavy and it required two sets of hands to lift and hold in place while I connected the chain at just the right position. More importantly the base and swivels had to be secured correctly from the rafter to insure the chain was going to be able sustain the weight of the bag and the force of the blows from Hayden, the young Day teenager! We also had to acquire a ladder tall enough for me to get up into the crawl space, so the neighbor down the street helped us with that. It also came in handy for Kevin as I held it for him while he decorated the fifteen foot pine tree with Christmas lights in the front yard. The snowflakes and cold air made me homesick a bit for Arizona as I stood against the creaky wooden ladder shivering from the elements. After we were done it was time for football, beer and some homemade Mexican food, so I changed clothes and jumped in the kitchen to do my thing.
It was a short and pleasant work day and I was compensated far more than I deserved for my services, but the joy and appreciation I felt for not only being hired and having the capacity to move forward once again but also for being rescued from the elements on such short notice left me with awe and humility. I stayed another two days with this wonderful family and as you can imagine it was hard to leave this morning, feeling like I was leaving family behind again. It was a great stay and I invite you to read more about my experience with Beth, Kevin, Hayden and Bella on my blog page this evening.
Thanks go out to the Day family and also to you wonderful folks who continue to support my adventure with comments and emails and of course by checking in on me wherever I go. Twelve more to go!