A Working Man

My first job in the car wash and detail shop run by Simeon also opened a window on what life as a working man, earning hard cash, could offer me especially since I  could now take my girl out for a stroll in the evenings on Front Street, visit the Hindu store or just go window shopping with some money in my pocket.  It was a nice feeling of, shall we say, independence and manliness.

For the days following I had a lot of work to do at the car wash and would hang around to meet some of the admirers of my work who were mostly young GI’s – American servicemen from the nearby bases, or preppy white boys who had automobiles. “Where is the ‘kid’ Simeon?” I would hear them ask as they approached getting out of their cars.  “Music to my ears,” I thought, as I prepared to work on yet another car.

In fact, I put all my energy into doing the best, most professional looking job on those servicemen’s vehicles, leaving them sparkling and new looking even if they weren’t the latest models.  None of the other young men on Simeon’s crew could render the simonize shine that I could achieve since I put a lot of elbow grease into my tasks.

My luck, however, would begin to meet up with our reality in Colon when other guys who worked for Simeon would show up looking for work from him and he would start to short-change me, scheduling me to work on fewer cars.

So, I turned to choir practice with Profesor Carlos Grant and the crew from my class for solace, the same class  in which I had been able to avoid reading my paper on J.S. Bach.  I would be in eternal trouble with my Spanish Teacher as a result of having won that competition and she, at the time, was also my Home Room teacher.

As we sang our hearts out in unison on the way home from school and dismissed each other, China, my other source of consolation,  would be waiting for me in the darkened recesses under the stairway of my building.

This story continues.

5 responses to “A Working Man

  1. Riri,,,just here reading and it came to mind your thumb bleeding after a puncture caused by the ‘live’ electric wire Profe ‘Icui’ made us grab as part of our shop requirement…..BTW, our other music teacher’s name was Hoyte.. I remember because Alberto Bryan used to always say: Hoyte, mañana cafe…

  2. Oye Hermano como el recordar hace a uno también honrar a unos difuntos respetados y queridos por todos nosotros. Sabes que de ti estuvimos hablando anteayer cuando fuimos a visitar a tu compadre y nuestro compañero Roy Prescod. El man se ve que esta muy bien preservado como nosotros los sobrevivientes. Gracias por mantenerme siendo parte de tus recuerdos por que no me recordaba de haber sangrado pero sí de ese episodio tan “bárbaro.”

  3. Hello. I’ve been enjoying your blog entries tremendously. I had to pause and comment on this particular one because of the name of the carwash owner, Simeon. My great-uncle, Simeon Forde, lived and worked on the Panama Canal and I have been trying to find out more about him and his brother Rufus Forde. Did you happen across any Forde’s from Barbados on your journey?

    • Judy,

      We didn’t answer you right away as the name Forde struck a note of recall back into the pages of The Panama Tribune. There was a small mention of a Forde (Ford) in Colon who owned a mechanic shop- quite prosperous at the time- however, I can’t put my hands on the article right now. When I have time, I’ll look into it.

  4. I would really appreciate it if you ever found that article. I am still interested.