Home Depot Is Where I Look for Temporary Work

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – Home Depot stores belong to the chain of the same name. They are dedicated to selling home improvement materials.

The closest one is about 6 kilometers from where I live, here it would be a little more than 3.5 miles, a unit of measurement I am not used to but must learn.

While waiting for my work permit, I take two buses to get to that store. I arrive early, almost at dawn, and always find more than a dozen men, all Cubans, waiting for a contractor for some occasional work.

Some days are lucky, and others are not. More than half return empty-handed.

Sometimes they have to deal with an occasional police presence. Many crossed numerous borders to get here, do not have permission to work, and have been waiting for months to appear in court to determine their immigration status.

I am surprised by the number of Cubans living in Tampa; it is probably the largest Hispanic community in the city.

I always distance myself from the groups, staying alone, distant. I think it is easier to get hired this way.

On the first day, I was lucky. A Cuban picked me up; he needed to install two air conditioners, which he could practically do alone. I wanted to help, but he said, “Relax, I just brought you because I didn’t want to come alone.”

By noon we were back. He handed me two bills that I barely looked at and accepted with embarrassment, and which turned out to be $120. He was generous.

The next few times, I left with nothing until one morning I met Christian, a young man born in this country who owns a small business. He needed a helper for the day, but we have established a good friendship, and he offers me work half of the week.

An intermittent job that, despite its hardness, I do with pleasure because it allows me to send something for my daughter in Cuba and cover the expenses of food, water, electricity, and internet.

Read more from the diary of Pedro Pablo Morejon here.

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