Searching for ideal masculinity: Negotiating day labor work and life at the margins.

Valenzuela Jr, Abel, and Maria C. Olivares Pasillas. 

In Invisible No More, pp. 91-110. Routledge, 2013.


Don Ramon needed work badly. He was late on his rent and had failed to send money home for the past two months to assist his wife with feeding and caring for their three children. After several weeks of almost securing work at a well known day laborer street corner in West Los Angeles, Don Ramon hit the day labor lottery of sorts. He was able to convince a prospective employer that his age (older than most of the day laborers at the hiring site) and size (short, medium build) would not disadvantage him at a job remodeling an older home. His job was to demolish a section of the garage and to load the discarded material in a pick-up truck. Towards the end of a long workday with little rest, Don Ramon stepped on a rusted nail, easily piercing his worn shoes and puncturing a tendon. After the injury, the employer who hired him told him to wait while he went to the nearby dump to unload his truck; he promised to return and take him to see a doctor. The employer did not return, and Don Ramon’s injury eventually disabled him for several months as it mushroomed into a serious infection. Perhaps even crueler than this vanishing act was the fact that the employer never paid Ramon for his labor that day. For the near term, Ramon’s family would have to do without his financial support.

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