I opened my eyes. Next to my leg was Chandler snoring away. Laying with her head on my pillow right next to my head was Bette. Outside I could hear voices, voices speaking in Spanish. I was still a little groggy and I thought maybe it was a dream, but it wasn't. There were definitely men speaking Spanish right outside my bedroom window. And then it started, the banging and the scraping. My neighbor was getting a new roof put on his house. It was not quite seven in the morning, but it seems roofers start early. As soon as the pounding started both dogs bolted off of the bed, barking madly, and ran to the back door. I peeked out the window and saw half a dozen or more Mexicans tearing into the roof. They were all joking and talking, and seemed to be enjoying their work.
When I was twenty one years old I joined a roofing crew for a week. A man in Davenport, Iowa was replacing the roof on his old house and he hired a bunch of us hippies at the rate of a dollar an hour to help. It was summertime, and the temperatures were in the high seventies all that week. For five days I helped scrape the old roof off, and helped nail the new roof on. It involved hot tar, great heights (of which I am afraid of), and back breaking, mind numbing work. Mostly I remember the heat. At the end of each day I was a mess. My clothes were filthy and sopping wet from sweat. I would drag myself back to the hippie commune and drop off to sleep immediately. I couldn't figure how anybody could actually do that for a living day in, and day out.
Yesterday at around five in the afternoon I took my dogs out for their walk. We slowly moved past the roofer's trucks as Chandler barked his displeasure. It made me remember my short stint as the hippie roofer forty three years ago and how completely wasted I felt at the end of each day. Standing around the trucks were all the Mexican workmen joking and talking, looking no worse for the wear after ten hours of hard work. It was as if they had just spent a day in the park. They didn't seem fazed by the heat and hard work at all. Yesterday it was ninety degrees with eighty percent humidity, and I almost had heat stroke cleaning the swimming pool.