Monday, June 3, 2013

Key West Labor

Well, the Memorial Day holiday came and went and around here that event was marked by a  great many people coming to town and spending money. In other parts of the country I am told people now have social permission to wear white as it is now officially summer, a season that ends on Labor Day a few months hence.
Therefore it seems to me that as we go into summer, a season that will be all too brief for the poor unfortunates who live in the snow belt, perhaps we should look forward to the great September Holiday marking the end of it all and take note of Key West labor. Above we see a gardener, quite possibly a transplant from somewhere cold and nasty like, say Wisconsin doing good work in the garden of a Key West attraction I still have yet to check out. Below we see work in progress, figuratively speaking, at a gate to Truman Annex knocked into the middle of next month by a car driver who apparently got lost or didn't see it or something. I don't know if the gate won but neither came out of the encounter well as I recall from the newspaper.
Its a stretch as far as being work related, but it seemed to me the cyclist was on her way to work. Telegraph Lane is not on the recommended tourist routes around Key West  and near Duval Street, but it does serve people who work in bars and the strip club  known as The Red Garter.
Above we see the worker on the best set of wheels one can have in Old Town stopping for a chat on the way to work. That is one of the best aspects for many people of working in the tourist trade in key West. After a while no one is a stranger and the low pay, lack of benefits and long hours are compensated for by the camaraderie of the workforce. I liked the Employee of the Month parking space, below, seen in the rear of the Hard Rock Café, and then finding out the employee in question rides a scooter and no one raises an eyebrow. In Key West scooters are wheels, not status symbols.
Silly me, I stopped to say good morning to this guy, an engineer in a former life who now threads spools for an embroidery company. I don't know how it happened, I blame Cheyenne who poked her nose in, but he started talking and didn't stop for fifteen long minutes as he expounded on his philosophy of life about the Federal Reserve, Debt and imminent economic collapse of everything (including presumably the embroidered cap market). Which is why I prefer not to get into conversations, monologues actually, with strangers. Not that I disagreed with him necessarily but it was a cascading waterfall of words and I nearly drowned.
The restaurants of Key West require all the usual maintenance but only if you walk early enough will you will get to see the elusive common-or-garden lesser known Key West worker. I find it ironic I have the most enjoyable, stable job of my life in a town where stable work is by definition an anomaly unless you are the person hiring the workers. Perhaps this guy is the employee of the month at Hard Rock? Who knows...I photographed him as we walked out of the courtyard in front of the Red Barn theater.  
There is a little alley off Simonton, actually there are several it turns out, but this one is less of a  street and more of a driveway. The business is one of long standing, Monroe County Glass and Mirror that operates almost out of sight in this courtyard. You'll see their trucks all over town. Glass is a fragile thing I'm told, and most probably mirrors are too.
Delivery trucks are supposed to be off Duval by noon and this one had hours to go before the deadline. I have come to feel rather dubious about restaurants that buy food from bulk suppliers considering all the weird stuff we read about adulterated foods world wide.
Somebody has to clean the outside of Sloppy Joe's and it happens to be him, suddenly aware of a large pig in a fur coat near his vulnerable ankles. 
 And then there are those whose job it is to sit around and slowly watch the day unfurl.
 That sort of defines me, considering I work nights when most people sleep. Roll on Labor Day.