The problems of this country writ large, in my house, last night…

About a month ago Mrs. Juniorprof and I decided to go just a bit greener by replacing our outdated house cooling unit with a top-of-the-line, super energy efficient, brand spanking new, air conditioning and duct system. Our house isn’t so big, so it didn’t require a ton of work, but several ceiling areas had to come down to put in those beautiful highly insulated ducts. The majority of the work has been done for about two weeks, but some leaks in the roof were discovered in the process so the ceilings have stayed down just to make sure that all the leaks were completely patched (its monsoon season here so its easy to discover if a leaky area has been corrected).

The dry-wall guy who is putting the ceilings back up came to do some work last night (around 7PM). This was actually supposed to happen about a week ago but the contractor (who is related to the dry-wall guy) informed me that Mr. Dry-Wall had fallen from a faulty scaffold at another (unrelated) job and that he had broken a few ribs. The injury had slowed him down but he was still working, I was told. This surprised me very much. I have also broken ribs before (playing football) and I can quite vividly remember not even wanting to breathe after that injury.

So, Mr. Dry-wall shows up at the door and he looks terrible. I met him before when he took the ceilings down and he then appeared to be a pretty happy middle aged dOOd. Not this time. I told him he really didn’t have to do this right now but he insisted that he needs the work so he wanted to get it done. Before starting we talked a bit about what had happened, all of this with the RNC on TV right behind us.

He told me how he is self-employed and gets most of his work on sub-contracts for bigger jobs. He wants to join a union but unionization of his line of work has never taken hold in this state. He has insurance but its shabby and he doesn’t have any worker’s compensation so even though he is badly injured right now he has to keep on going. He got hurt when a faulty scaffold collapsed and he fell about one story onto the base of the scaffold (exactly the sort of thing worker’s comp is supposed to cover). I can’t imagine how badly that would hurt! Interestingly, he took one look at the RNC on TV and said, “they don’t give a crap about me” and then asked me for some water. I gave him some gatorade instead. He took the gatorade, got the bottle of percoset Percocet out of his pocket, popped a few pills and got to work.

We continued to chat while he was working. He was obviously in pain and I had work to do but I figured that if we continued to chat it might distract him from the pain just a bit. He showed me his back after a few more minutes. Completely black from the bruising. He went on to tell me that he makes decent money at this job but he needs to keep working all the time to make enough money to raise his daughters and pay for their schooling. I asked him something about having savings to take some time off and he said he couldn’t do that because the money put away was for his daughters’ future. After about 3 hrs he finished one part of the job and told me he would come back tomorrow evening to finish the rest. I wanted to tell him to just come back when he was better but I knew what he would say. The house was about 75 degrees while he was working. He was completely drenched in sweat. I would guess that most of that sweating was pain-induced.

How does this happen? Here you have a man who is trying to do the right thing, make an honest living and give a better future to his kids working with a severe injury just to keep his head above water. He wants to unionize, but cannot. He needs worker’s compensation insurance but doesn’t have it. He needs medical care but doesn’t have the time or money to get it. This is not right.

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6 responses to “The problems of this country writ large, in my house, last night…

  1. I still cannot understand why in 2008 the United States of America has not yet embraced socialized medicine. In Canada we pay more taxes but we do not worry about who will pay our health bills. By and large we are a very happy and relaxed population despite the taxes.
    I agree JP. The situation in the US is not right, but why the hell is it still that way?

  2. How does this happen?

    It happens when traitorious sick-fuck right-wing wackaloon scumbags have been running the country for the vast majority of the last 40 years.

  3. And, how do we persuade guys like this that the Democratic party cares about them? Just because he realizes the RNC doesn’t care about him doesn’t mean he feels that the DNC does.

  4. Well, I guess I should have mentioned that he was a big Obama supporter. He specifically mentioned his health care plan (and Union support) as the reason for his support. Of course getting the health care plan passed is a whole other issue.

  5. Sorta extending DrJ’s point—I think this happens because too many like him vote republican anyway—distracted by the jingoistic claptrap of flag and bible, they fall for this morality and service-nobility bullshit. Sad but true. Remove god from the equation, and GOP is collectively doing jail time.
    Carlin said it in an interview a couple of years back—the liberal movement really lost the battle when the GOP got the blue collar vote. They found a way to get the votes of the same people whom they were exploiting and looting. As always, good education is the key. And it is no coincidence that the GOP has waged a massive assault on education for decades now.

  6. What a terrible story, and I’m sad to say these are repeated all over this country. Find a way that you can help him, if you can.

    I have a janitor that cleans my office- 60 something, taking care of her 6 grandchildren and her disabled husband… this lady could use a hand. Fortunately once she told someone about her situation we have been able to help her out by taking care of the needs of the kids…

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