I had my first inspection at a project in Medley yesterday. If you’ve ever had to go to the heart of the City of Medley, you’ll know why I was dreading it. It’s a small, blue collar industrial enclave just South of Okeechobee Road, West of the Palmetto Expressway. It’s dirty, gritty and nowadays really crowded. There are hundreds of warehouses, logistics parks, manufacturing plants, concrete plants…etc.. All of these make for a plethora of semi trucks, dump trucks, concrete trucks and all manner of other trucks congesting the streets which are mostly single lane byways. I’d say the streets are littered with potholes and concrete splatters, dips, bumps, but really its the other way around. The potholes are littered with streets. A cloud of dust mixed with smoke and other debris looms over Medley like fog.
Dad worked in Medley for almost twenty years.
After braving the potholes and the traffic I made it to the project site running just a few minutes late. I could taste the foul air as I walked the site, took photographs and ensured my work was being done correctly. By the time I got back to the construction trailer to sign the Inspection Log Book, I had a sore throat. My nose was stuffy, my face was gritty and my eyes stung.
“Yeah,” the site superintendent told me as I signed off on the inspection. “Looks like you have the Medley Flu.”
I let out a chuckle that turned into a cough. “I dont know how you do it,” I replied. “What’s the quickest way out of here?”
Back in the truck I wiped the sweaty grit off my face and soothed the eyes with some eyedrops. My throat was still scratchy as I headed offsite and followed the super’s directions. Down this street, right at the stop.
There was a trucked stopped about a block after the right turn. It was blocking the street and I cursed it as I tend to do in traffic. As I stood there desperately waiting to get out of the grime and dust that is Medley, I realized exactly where I was. I had been on this precise street hundreds of times. Right then and there I was afraid to look to my left because I knew exactly what I was going to see.
I was right in front of US Foundry. Where Dad worked. And not only was I in front of US Foundry, but I was in front of the exact spot where Dad’s work table was. The same spot where Dad spent his days toiling, slamming his sledge hammer, plying iron and steel to conform to his strength and his will. Eight hours days out there in the weather, sheltered only by a corrugated metal roof, in the heat, the rain, the cold.
For almost twenty years Dad busted his ass right there at that spot, sucking in the foul Medley air along with welding fumes. Day in. Day out. In a dirty uniform and heavy steel toed boots. His face permeated with grime and grit. His hands and arms bruised and cut and scarred. Dealing with not only whatever heavy task was at hand but with asshole managers and disrespectful coworkers. Pricks that would steal his lunch and lazy shits whose work Dad had to finish. Working on his feet all day, despite pain in his ankles, or his knees, or elbows or shoulders or the thumb he’d accidentally smashed the day before. Ignoring the burns on his arms and little metal shavings under his fingernails. In Godforsaken Medley. With never so much as a regret or a complaint.
Day in. Day Out.
For my sister and me. So we wouldn’t have to work as hard nor ever have to make the sacrifices he did. So we would have clothes on our backs, clean faces, fresh haircuts and full bellies. For Mom. So she could have a nice home, an occasional trip to a faraway beach and not be want of anything, ever.
Pain and sweat and grime and grit and stench and sacrifice.
Day in. Day out.
For his family.