Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The color of money is green; of labor brown

Brown is the color of the face of labor in southwest Florida. Behind the McDonald's register, stocking supermarket shelves, yanking soggy pink insulation from the ceilings of hurricane-damaged condos, blowing brittle dessicated leaves from parking lots, mowing properties, trimming shrubs — brown.

Almost two weeks ago the eye of Hurricane Wilma passed about 20 miles south of where I write this. This region is mostly cleanup and repair mode, and not rebuild or relocate like it is in places wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. Had Wilma made landfall here or north of here, the story would have been different, the damage much greater. But it didn't.

Contracted labor is crawling all over the place. Nobody is leaning on a shovel. Everybody's working. Everybody's getting top dollar for their services, a good friend tells me. This is "gravy work," he says.

Signs posted along just about every off ramp of I-75 warn that providing contracted services without a state license is a felony. I can't speak to the other trades, such as roofers, etc., but I didn't see any landscape trucks or trailers that weren't local.

-- Ron Hall

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