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Do you remember back in the 90s when super model Linda Evangelista claimed she wouldn’t “wake up for less than $10,000 a day” ? Well, it turns out there are a couple of unemployed people who hang out at our local Home Depot who won’t work for less than $20 an hour.

Really, it’s true.

We needed an extra hand or two for some warehouse work, so my father decided to swing by Home Depot to find someone for this pick up work. In the past, B has often gone there and for $50 or so has been able to hire a guy to do the extra work.

So, this past Friday, sans Blas, my father and I approached several men, and offered them 4 hours of work for 50 bucks — or $12.50/hr.

For the record, the act of slowly driving up to a group of loitering men, and offering them a legitimate job felt lecherous and dangerous — but mostly, ill-advised. My father is strong in spirit but physically weak, and as I lowered my window, I questioned the wisdom of our decision. Fortunately, these men made it easy for us.

The first group of men lowered their heads and peered into our car. They clearly surveyed us and offered their price: $20/hour and nothing less. In fact, they were amused by our $50 lump sum. We drove away surprised by their gall. Perhaps it was a fluke.

A few feet away from the first group a man waved us over. As we approached him, I lowered my father’s window. He swaggered up to the car and my father offered him work. The man stated $50 was not worth his time.

Umm, since when is $50 for 4 hours of work a paltry sum? By my calculation, that’s $12.50/hr which is nearly 42% higher than Florida’s minimum wage.

I guess we looked surprised because he then suggested, in a not-so-polite manner, that we go back to whatever country we came from because here, in the US, people don’t work for free. He said this with such derision and contempt, I wanted to leap across my father’s lap and punch him in the face.  

I raised my father’s window and faced my father. My father has overcome unthinkable health crises these last few years and though his health has been restored, at times, he can become easily shaken. This was one of those times.  He was shocked and confused, but mostly, he looked vulnerable. I put my hand over his heart, and drove away, gritting my teeth.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the federally mandated minimum hourly wage is $7.25 — in Florida, it’s $7.31. Here is a list of current hourly wages earned in the U. S.:

Adjunct college professor:     $14 – $17/hr

Bank teller:     $14/hr

Medical assistant: $15/hr

Here is a link of other jobs that pay $20/hr. Perhaps I should post it on the stoop those men loiter and remind them never to look at a gift horse in the mouth.

Amen.

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