The men I work with could be described as having colorful language, being a bit rough around the edges, or just straight up crude. That’s what I saw at first. Cussing, smoking, and inappropriate humor are the norm, it seems. But as hour after sweaty hour goes by and I spend more time working alongside of them, I really begin to understand just how strong some of them are.
One of my coworkers shows up every day on time and stays the whole day (not all of the men do!) because he’s working to provide for his family. He gave up his dream of pursuing basketball so that he could see his son more. He wishes he had more time to focus on going to church, and reading the Bible, but it’s difficult for him to go 100% into faith with a family to provide for and an exhausting job. He dreams of a career where he works on car transmissions — something he loves to do.
Another one of my coworkers consistently works 10 hours a day. That’s ten hours in a field of dirt and mud in 90, sometimes 100 degree heat. He does this so that he can provide safety for his family. He’s served time as a police officer in the past. He loves his wife and his twins, whom he is separated from currently while he makes money to provide for them. He dreams of a better life, spent with his family.
It makes me feel a little guilty knowing that I’m only working this job for the summer. I have full control over my hours — I can choose when I go into work, since no one is dependent on my money to live. I’m free to be there, and I’m free to go. My pay is good for being a summer laborer, and I’m doing the some of the same work that the career guys are. A lot of the guys I work with don’t have that kind of freedom. Many of them can’t or didn’t go to school like I am now.
And yet, they all have dreams. Many of these men work to provide for their families; there isn’t much else they know to do or that they could go to. So they work the jobs that many people look down on or think less of, and build the beautiful structures that we get to use and enjoy. Their language and humor is roughened by the frustration that comes from spending hours in the sun every day. But they are still human — they like to laugh, to smile, and to enjoy the benefits of the hard work that they do. In those ways, they reflect the image of the God that they unknowingly bear.
It seems their dreams fuel their desire to get up in the morning. You can tell how much the men have to live for based on how they treat their job — when they stay late, when they show up on time every day; those are the committed ones. The dreamers.
Here’s to those who are overlooked and undervalued. Those striving to make ends meet while dreaming of so much more. Here’s to the ones who hold onto hope by the thinnest of threads, and wake up every morning with a determination that can sometimes seem inhuman. Whether it’s illness, the hardships of life, grief, depression, or anything else — here’s to you waking up every morning and simply drawing another breath. You’re an example of strength. A reflection of perseverance. A model of long-suffering.
Thank you for showing the rest of us what it means to dream.