Saturday, July 23, 2005

New Shoes

On the way home the other day, I took Naun to Sears and bought him some steel-toe work boots. He's been wearing some decent but scuffed up leather shoes (from Honduras; I asked), and it struck me while he was cleaning dirt out from them that they weren't the best work shoes. Even after he's done working on my project, he'll have other work opportunities, so why not be prepared.

So off to Sears we went. He was a bit confused at first by the request to take off his shoes, but I explained as best I could that I wanted to get him some new boots as a bonus. They were on sale, so they didn't even cost that much...probably about what my steel-toe work boots did 5 or 6 years ago. I just hope he doesn't treat them like his dictionary, and not bring them to the work site for fear of messing them up.

I think and hope I'm paying Naun a fair wage for his work. The benefits package is limited (transportation and lunch), and bonuses rather arbitrary depending on when I think of something, but it's a good deal more than minimum wage. Minimum wage just isn't a survivable amount of money to make anywhere in the U.S., but especially in expensive areas like the SF Bay Area. The median house price recently hit $630,000 -- yikes! Fortunately for people like Naun, rents haven't gone up as insanely as house prices.

I'm in the middle of reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, an intriguing look at how people who work for low wages get by (or not) in America. She describes one job where she was expected to buy her uniform vest and a tape measure. It's one thing for a business person to go out and buy a suit, briefcase, etc. when making a decent salary, but to expect someone making not much more than minimum wage to spend a chunk of money just equipping themselves for the job seems absurd.

So some new shoes for Naun to work in seemed like a darn good idea when it occurred to me. I just wish I'd thought of it a couple weeks ago. But then again, a couple weeks ago I didn't know if Naun was going to work out.

I like working with him well enough, and he's an incredibly hard worker. But for a lot of stuff, I'm more comfortable working without him. As an introvert, it takes energy for me to interact with other people. And it definitely takes me energy to explain how to do stuff and be patient with his learning process (like others at Habitat were with me), doubly so in Spanish. I enjoyed Friday's work, where I worked at my own pace, and didn't have to explain any process to anyone.

Today Kat led another prayer workshop at Resurrection. As with the first, it was well attended, and although Prayer of Examen is hard for some people (myself included) because of the introspection required, I think people got a lot out of it. This afternoon I prepared the service slides and artwork for tomorrow's services. So no work on the house until Monday. Hopefully I'll have an estimate for the QuadBlock concrete forms soon.

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