Monday, October 15, 2007


There's a house behind my office that's having an extension built on it. There was once a screened in porch which was broken, I assume, from Hurricane Wilma; left only with an aluminum frame. I would watch the owners sit on a porch swing and smoke butts and it was killing me. More than once I walked halfway across the parking lot to their yard wanting to ask "What are you going to do about this?"; I couldn't stand it, half destroyed. But I never made it there. How could they leave it like this? They have a dog, an old chocolate brown lab named Hershey who sometimes leaves piles of crap so big in our parking lot you'd think horses have come through. He's so big, stupid and sweet; he wonders around the yard and our lot, sniffing our dogs smells and I always watch him waddle back home. Anyway, a few months ago, they started construction. First, they took away that aluminum frame and jack-hammered the concrete floor. There were 4 workers at first and as usual, two guys standing around watching while the other two humped like camels. One of the men always working hard is an older black man. Perhaps in his mid-to-late 50's and seriously balding. I can't tell how tall he is from where I watch through my office window but he seems to be average height and thin. He's here nearly everyday; working through the wooden framing, electrical wiring, drywalling, installing windows and let me tell you, this man can stucco like no one's business. One day, I noticed a tree I hadn't noticed before; they have a banana tree and it was growing bunches and bunches of green bananas. I walked across to get a close-up view-how absurd I'd never seen bananas growing on a tree before. He watched me walk over and examine the tree but never said anything. You know how you can feel someone watching you? I felt that burning sensation as I walked back to my tiny office. He cannot possibly know I watch him work as the french, double paned windows are slightly tinted to filter out harsh Florida light. I must spend hours watching him work, fascinated by his determination, I know, to do a good job for these people. Several times a day, I go outside to smoke cigarettes, something I take great pleasure yet relish with guilt in. Every time, my friend stops working and puts down his tools to wave to me. I wave back. "Hello, my stranger friend!" I want to shout but have never spoken. The kind gesture moves me.

They've started painting today and I assume he'll go away soon as the end of this build out winds down. This man, whom I've nothing in common with; average, black, older and balding, working through hot sun and humid rain; a connection. My life blows by so fast and sometimes, if I'm lucky, I can grab hold of a branch and see the vivid colors around me. Like the bananas once green a perfect color yellow.