Jose had a small frame. Standing 5’4″, his size conveyed weakness and limitations but that was far from the truth. Jose impressed me multiple times with the load he could carry on his back when we threw the drywall scrap. Even more when we were hanging drywall. Although he was smaller and scrawnier than me, he could out work me beyond what I could exceed. His small frame did evidently come to betray him when he consumed alcohol. A small consumption would knock him out and his ode took advantage of it as she pleased herself with any man in the room.
Throughout the years, Jose had become a mentor for all the newcomers who had miserably chosen or forced to to choose the life of a sheetrocker. A sheetrocker had to endure painful and physically demanding days. They would hang the Sheetrock that many of you are unaware are what make up the walls in your home. Large panels of plaster, 4’x12′ to be exact. Many want to be apprentice attempted to endure days of these excruciating labor but only a few stayed and endured them. I always respected all those who did.
At the age of 20, I too accepted the challenges of this occupation and took much pride knowing I was one of the few to overcome it. The winter made unbearable to hold the screw gun or any metal. The touch of anything made the fingers of your hand numb to the point you couldn’t move it. The summer heat became trapped within the plywood exterior of the homes. It Tom was unbearable to handle as sweat dropped dropped constantly from our bodies, forcing us to switch out our shirts over four times a day. As they dried on the hood of our car so we could use them again. To say the least, the job was very tough
To balance the tension the work provided, many of us played soccer on a less than appropriate yard many of us used a soccer field, behind the workshop we all met for work. During one of these afternoon games, Jose slipped and broke his wrist. Leaving me to replace his place. I was unskilled walking on stilts but the next day I was left with no choice but to learn to use those bionic legs.
After four or five months, Jose returned after recovering from his injury. I was eager to show him all I’ve learned in those months. Thinking he would be amazed at my hard work. Finally I would prove I am worthy to wrong alongside hard working men like him. My speed had increased, as well as my skills.
On that hot sunny day, we both were assigned to hang the sheetrock in a garage. This would be the most challenging part of hanging a house. The drywall sheets were thicker this heavier than the Sheetrock hung inside a house. In addition, I had to stand six feet above the floor on a less than sturdy scaffold. Increasing the danger of falling and injuring one self as a result of the job. Jose was different though. He wasn’t as quick or alert as he was before the injury. While me and him were both lifting a sheet to screw onto the trusses he began telling me of a dream he had always wanted to pursue. Anytime anyone of one them spoke to me about something personal I ok it serious and always kept it to myself.
He enlighten me on his dream of becoming a horse racer. “Brian there are times I want to leave this behind and focus on horse racing” he told me in Spanish. “I’m not going to be young much longer and I with my structure I am perfect for the sport”.
He continued telling me about the history of horse racing, the etiquettes of the sport, as well as his experience in it. I was shocked to learn of his interest in horse racing as well as his past history when he was young.
We continued hanging drywall on that hot blazing day without any word of his dream. A year later, Jose left to work for a different company. He recently messaged me on Facebook looking for work. I responded to him but he never responded back. Now, at the age of almost forty, his dream of becoming a horse racer will never come true.