As you remember from yesterday’s post, I was out in Manassas helping my friend Tom remodel his bathroom. We took several trips to home improvement stores. On Day 201 we went to Lowe’s, where I met George. Well, on Day 202 we went to the Home Depot in Manassas and I met John.
He was behind the counter dressed in a striped shirt, a black Home Depot hat that covered a bandana on his head and a the standard issue orange apron. Across the front of his apron the name John was written in black permanent marker.
Prior to coming to Home Depot five years ago he and his wife worked on horse farms down in Georgia. He seems to like his job but I get the sense that work has taken over his life. “Sometimes I feel like I just come to work, go home, eat dinner, go to sleep, get up and come back here and do it all over again,” he says. And I bet you could pretty much work every day at a place that only closes on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
John is the type of guy I need to find when I go to Home Depot. He grew up helping his father with projects and doing mechanic work since he was eight so he has good experience with home projects and is comfortable working with tools, etc. I am getting better, but let’s just say that I have a long way to go.
His short sleeves reveal two fully tattooed arms. “I started getting tattoos in 1992. I’ve got 140 total.” I learned that he hasn’t gotten any tattoos though in about ten years. So 140 tattoos in eight years comes out to be one about every three weeks. Wow…that’s intense! So how much would that cost? John estimates that he has invested between $6-10,000 in body art over the years. “I’ll probably still get another one some day,” he admits. He says the most painful one was a tattoo that he got on his left inner thigh. I took a look at his arms. Many of them depict Native American scenes inspired by his Sioux Indian heritage.
He shared with me that when he started at Home Depot that the big question was if he was going to have to wear long sleeve shirts in order to cover his tattoos. “After about a week they decided that it was OK because there was nothing offensive about the tattoos and they couldn’t really discriminate against me just because I had tattoos.” Reminds me a little of when I was in high school I got a job a clothing store at the mall called Chess King. Bill the manager asked me in the interview if there was anything that might prohibit me from performing the job. “Well, I am color-blind,” I told him. Bill looked pretty dumbfounded and said that he wasn’t sure they could hire me because of that. But they did. Apparently they were a little concerned about potential discrimination claims. I did ok there. Everything goes with jeans!
I looked down at the $10 and asked him what he planned on doing with it. He thought about it for a little bit and decided to deposit it into his money market account. He is saving money to hopefully retire in 15 years at 65.
John and his wife live with his 83-year-old father whose activities have been significantly curtailed after he suffered a broken hip. He says that in the next month or two the doctors will determine if they can fix his father’s hip. He paused as he told me this next part and his eyes went to the ground and then back up to me. If they are unable to fix his father’s hip John will have to stop working in order to stay home and take care of his father. “That’s OK, we’ll figure something out. My dad raised me and I owe it to him to take care of him. He did it for me.”