I walk by day laborers every day on my way to work. They stand. They sit. They wait very close by the building that I enter every day.
By the evening, they’re usually gone.
Listen, I’m not going to romanticize these men. Some of them are chumps. Some of those men say things in Spanish that make even my jaded New York City/Mexico City ears burn.
But once in a while, a day laborer will walk right over to me, and hand me a post-it like the one above. They need work. All they want is to work. They walk over to me even if I have my headphones on. Even if I’m giving them a wide berth as I saunter by on a groggy Monday morning.
Those men always ask me if I speak Spanish. They ask me this in a soft voice, with appropriate eyes.
I always say yes.
The man hands me a post-it. Or a small piece of unlined white paper. He gently asks me to please let people know that they work well, and they work cheap. To please give his info to whomever I see fit.
Those men know that I walk into that building every day for my job. I don’t tell them this. They just always see me walk by.
The man who gave me the post-it in the picture – his name is Humberto.
The same name as my dead Mexican grandfather.
I don’t stand there a while and talk. I never say much. I don’t memorize faces. I don’t want to open any literal or figurative doors.
Part of that is due to my privilege. Part of that is for my own protection.
Post-It politics, played out on eggshell blue paper.