What is this thing called work. From one point of view it is a good thing, it gives you money for your time spent “helping” another out. On the other side it is a bad thing as it does not give enough money and the person wants a lot more “help” than you imagine yourself capable of giving.

It is the latter work that bums most of us out. The former work is a good thing. The latter bad. I saw both sides of that last week at the Gatornationals where Labor Ready found me a job. It was hard work but to some of the men I was working with I was not working hard enough. That was the bummer. I could have been paid more, too, but the minimum wage hasn’t changed much, though I did think it was $7.34 and I earned $7.56 an hour.

I got sick on the last day. I was getting a cold and I had downed a Full Throttle from the managers of the day before. I lost my van at noon and I spent 20 minutes of my 30 minute lunch break looking for it. I was taking a medicine that warns it may make you dizzy. I can get dizzy from anything, I’m so tired most of the time and I was conscious that these energy drinks cause a crash. 

I had been sleeping in  my van and thus the cold I was telling you about. A cool morning was beginning to turn into a hot afternoon. I had been taking some Zyrtec for hay fever that week. Lots of pollen in the air. I thought that was the end of that.

I found my van and had some apple juice and a banana. I had been worried about the dizziness. I have not had my eyeglass prescription renewed in over a year and I was taking my glasses off and putting them back on. I thought the glasses were making me dizzy. I was keeping up with work though, I thought. It wasn’t until we finished our original site and moved on to another site to take down another tent that I got dissed about not working.  The water seemed to be the thing.  My friend whom I had taken to work that day told me I should drink the water during a break, and sit in the shade, he said. I did but when we moved to the new site and there was more of the heavy lifting of those frames, those ribs that kept up the tents, made of aluminum I started to feel kind of wiped out. I looked for simple things to do. There were tools I was not familiar with, tools I didn’t really know how to use. I learned one thing that helped wrap up the rubber flooring, a small wench kind of thing but I became no expert on it nor can I remember its name.

To make a long story short I was looking for things that would not knock me out. At the new site they were hard to find. The dizziness continued. Everything was white out at the new site. I thought I was going blind. I had to ask if everything was all white out there and I was assured there was a tremendous whitenss to it all. The vendor’s truck was white.  I have diabetes and it is something that happens to diabetics I’ve heard.

Someone took a good look at me and said I should drink some cold water. I did. Not long later another fellow saw me getting kind of pale and wan, I think, and also told me to drink some cold water. The first fellow was white, my friend whom I gave a ride, too, the second was black, a young man I had seen on the job. I wondered what was wrong with me. Was I just so out of shape? One fellow did not worry that I was sick and was pissed off I was drinking the water.  I was just loafing as far as he was concerned. It may be of some mention that I had taken a rider he may have gotten $3 for to the site instead of him that morning. I was driving with a suspended license and I hope police will forgive me for this. They had told me that I had a suspended license when I went for a police clearance pass to get into the Salvation Army. Funny, about that, originally they had checked a box on my clearance pass that said I was a sexual predator. I took that pass to the Salvation Army and of course they couldn’t let me stay. So, next day after some discussion with one of my friends from St. Francis House, I went back to the police station and cleared that up. I was not a sexual predator I told the young police woman. “Are you a sexual offender?” she asked. “No!” I replied.

It took the young woman a long time to make sure I was not sexual predator but shefinally got it done and a policeman came out and returned my license. He said, “You know your license is suspended don’t you?”  

“No, I said, I don’t. “

“Falure to pay a court fee, an outstanding ticket or fine or something like that.”

I finally confided that I had been driving without insurance for some time and he told me that that would do it. He asked me if I had driven there and I said yes. He gave me back my license because it was my only form of I.D. and told me if I did drive to keep it at a minimum. The back streets, I concluded and did as he asked.

I had work out at the Gatornationals on Sunday and I drove. I could have gone with this black rap star looking fellow but Labor Ready and I had not set up for me to do so. I had been told if I could get a ride I could have the ticket. Well, I had a ride. I had my ride, my van. There had been another fellow in the office that day. A nice, young afro-american man from Connecticut. I went over to the Labor Ready office on Sunday , the day before I was to get ill, to see if maybe he was there hoping for a ride. He was not but  another fellow, a white guy who had lived in California for a while was there almost ready to take off with my rap star looking man. I asked if anyone needed a ride and one of the managers at Labor Ready, a female manager, let him take my ride instead of the other. I didn’t know this was going to cause a problem. Was the rapper man getting even with me on Monday for the ride I took from him on Sunday? He would deny it most likely.

By the end of the Monday I was just standing around bent over. I was dizzy and sensitive to the criticism I was getting, trying to tell other fellows that I had diabetes and heart problems. That started with saying I was out of shape. I had been in a gym at one time so that’s why it came up in my mind. One man thought maybe I had been drinking or taking drugs. I told him I didn’t drink or do drugs. I follow a Guru for Christ’s sake, but I didn’t tell him that. Woo, time finally passed and the “boss” as the young black men were calling the contractor was signing the tickets. When they sign the tickets they put the hours they are giving the men or employees to be politically correct. I looked at mine and it said 8. Whoopee! I needed the money, but I still woozy and as I tried to make it out to my van I had to stop and bend over forwards again. I puked. I threw up. The heat, some cold I was getting, the sugar maybe, probably sky high as I have not gotten any insulin yet, made me do it. Three times and finally I was able to get out to the van.

It was a difficult day and one that is keeping me from going back to Labor Ready for more work as well as my illness. I have developed a cold which reminds me how really bad I felt that day. My heart was racing from that Full Throttle energy drink. It also gave me severe heartburn. I was taking some Tum like stuff for it. They didn’t work too well. I was really worried with the dizzies and the heart racing about my health. My friend, Mark, whom I had given a ride also was worried. He said the Full Throttle gave him heartburn, too.

I have a favorite place where I was parking the van and sleeping. Homeless people who are not in a shelter do that, they find places to sleep for the night. I pulled into that place, a quiet place and I was still having trouble. The cold symptoms were beginning to bother me and it occurred to me that some cold medicine might slow down that hearbeat. I also figured that I could get a better acid reducer than these Walgreens Tums. I was used to Prilosec but I had discovered the store brand did just as good a job. My Campus Credit Union turned out to be open until 6 P.M. and I had gone there with the check I received from Labor Ready after I handed in my ticket so I had some cash though I was sick as a dog. I almost threw up at Campus CU. It was so cool in there. I could feel what the sun had done to me that day. There had been discussions about where to get a check cashed after 4 for free at the Labor Ready office. Bank of America seemed to be the hot place. There are also places, Publix among them, who cash the check for a $1 fee. BOA unfortunately closed at 4 p.m. they told me. I was surprised when Campus was opened and surprised again when the teller told me one didn’t need an account there to cash a check. So , there’s a tip to you guys. Campus USA, credit union will cash your check until 6 p.m. Monday – Friday.

So, the cold pills did do me well. The slowed down that heartbeat very nicely and the store brand Prilosec took care of that heartburn but that cost me $20 for the 2 items.  I had only earned 50 something dollars that day and 30 something from the Sunday. 


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