Fortunately, I also knew I had dedication, desire and grit in my blood.
My grandfather was part of the first wave of Mexican immigrants that settled in Los Angeles.
Each humid morning, I wrestle myself into a pair of used men’s jeans from Goodwill that most of my peers would refuse to be seen wearing in public.
I slip my tape measure onto my belt, tie my hair back as I run out the door, and climb into the passenger seat of the plumber truck, which is really an aged white minivan with two kinds of pipes strapped to the top.
Reckoning with these feelings is hard, which is why people don’t talk about them much. Six years ago, I started asking high school seniors to send in any college application essay that happened to be about money, work, social class or related topics.
Immediately, it was clear that there was plenty we could learn from their writing, as they and their parents prepared to make what may be the biggest financial decision of their lives: where to spend up to 0,000 on a college education.
Five summers navigating the pipes of Milwaukee have taught me that the messy parts of people’s houses reflect the messy parts of their lives. When his rugged Sawzall blade slices through walls, clouds of plaster permeate the air.
Sometimes there are no walls at all, and we work in primordial jungles of fiberglass insulation, floor joists and rusted cast iron stacks.
I was tired of seeing childhood friends flashing gang signs, relatives glued to the beer bottle or my dad coming home late at night with burn scars from work.
Something had to change and I knew it fell to me to initiate that change.