Smiling in Mud.


We finally came around, after ten years, to correct an irrigation defect on our property.

One side of the driveway has never had working sprinklers. When our 100-year-old Oak tree fell down and collapsed two months ago, it seemed to open up a new sense of possibility in how the front yard might look. But we needed water for planting.

Norberto Miguel offered the most economical estimate. He started work today, and surprisingly, he worked alone.

This was a dirty, wet, muddy, filthy, sweaty, exhausting job of shoveling, digging, and trenching. Grabbing with one hand, PVC piping, and attaching it to a garden hose, he threaded the pipe underneath the 20-foot wide concrete driveway and basically soldered the plastic pipes into one connected and fused line. He laid out sprinklers and ripped up ornamental grasses that had stood in the way of the new plan.

Norberto Miguel 2

Tomorrow, he will return to replace aging valves and install new siphons in place of those that had leaked water.

He did all this work smiling, covered in dirt. His jeans, hands and face were soaked and stained in mud and dust. He left in moonlit darkness.

Travel around Los Angeles these days, and you might come in contact with those sullen, skinny, banana-spined brats who work in boutiques on Abbot Kinney or sit in coffeehouses twittering texts all day. And then you encounter Spanish-speaking gardeners, day laborers, carpenters, painters and tree trimmers who work like slaves, seven days a week.

Can you guess who are the happiest and least complaining?

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