Fingers and Toes

I was returning some favours today so I noticed some things outside of my daily habits. I noticed how sweat catches any breeze and the sun can only be danced about. I noticed my community and what we look like from two stories up. I noticed muscles and actions I was unaccustomed to. Not long into my shingling I even noticed synergy.

I was two stories up working for a friend with a physical disability who does more than most. He had a hired man whose name for anonymity is Roger. Roger stands 6 foot three with a mustache and pony tail. Nearing or above 270 pounds his shadow is larger than mine. His belly is bigger than his biceps but his forearms are larger than many within labour. His hands are huge. I didn’t take off my shoe but I swear his fingers were as big as my rather large toe. I stared at them every chance I had.

Since I was the grunt we both found ourselves in the midst of labour and conversation. I saw enough of his laugh and intelligence to want more. He was quiet but I tried to talk to him through the silences labour brought. We started talking about old bars in the city and surrounding region. Roger mentioned that in his hometown and at least one other establishment in the city there was either a side for Natives or another section entirely. I was shocked. “How old are you?” I then pleaded for the decade. It was the early seventies. I was sure racial barriers were long less than that. I was glad to have helped Roger for I held nothing but grief in my heart for him. What might it have been like to grow up on the wrong side of humanity?

Roger accepted much less pay than any job near this size might command. His wages were closer to the decade he was segregated. I think we expect people who have been wronged to stand up and protest. What if it is the person wronged who should be approached? If you do not believe Native Canadians are worthy of your respect it does not mean they should not be apologized to. I worked hard for the hired man. If it was a weight on a scale I did more. I only hope my back was stronger when I knew his pain.

Roger is proud in a way that involves no chest but plenty of heart. In discussing one of the premiere builders in the city he couldn’t understand that they do ten jobs and laugh at their customers while he does so many more for so much less.

We celebrate success but there are some who measure it differently. Is Roger less than builder Dan with his truck and trailer or is he more as he bikes from job to job?

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