On my train home from Manhattan today, I heard a young man answer his cell phone. His side of the conversation went something like this:
“Thank you for calling me! Yes, I’m looking for work.”
He lists several types of construction jobs he can do and where he learned them.
“I’m available part time. On these three days. The other days I go to school.”
He leans forward on his worn-in work boots.
“Friday night, I’m in school from 6 to 11pm. Once school is out for the summer, I can work full-time . . . Pardon? I’m 20. Yes sir.”
He adjusts the tool bag — dusted with evidence of a long work day — on the seat in front of him.
“And I come from hard-working people. I mean, my dad was in the business. My grandpa owned his own company . . . I don’t want to take up all your time.”
“Thank you again, for calling me. Let me know. If there’s nothing right now, I’m available full-time in a few weeks. Until school starts again.”
I wanted to ask him what he was going to school for. But shortly after his phone call he nodded off, with his head against the train window. He woke up just before his stop, like people do when they’re accustom to squeezing in sleep, during a day that doesn’t allow much of it.
I didn’t get to talk with this young man. But I’m I would bet money he’ll find a job and get through school. I’d bet the future of my country on it.