Sunday, September 16, 2012

9/4 - 9/5 Providence, RI With New Friends

Once the rain stopped I got a chance to dry my feet out, fruitless endeavor though it was. 

The foot powder I'd put in my shoes the night before was caked between my toes and ground into what was left of the blister on my right foot. 

After cleaning my feet and putting on dry socks, glaring balefully at my shoes, I took my phone out of it's baggie to check my messages. I'd missed one from Isaac on Facebook, having sent him the wrong number and delayed my trip into Providence, it seemed our meeting was doomed to failure. After forwarding him the correct number I immediately received a message. He'd decided to join me for what was left of my trek to East Greenwich, RI.

Isaac arrived and we walked from the National Guard/ RMV type area on Rt. 1 down to West Warwick, at which point I was bushed. After rain, and three days of near inactivity I didn't have it in me to go the next four miles. I called a halt to our trek and contacted my host Brittany, to picked us up in front of a Dunkin' Donuts. In the mean time Isaac and I talked, and talked and talked.

To tell Isaac's story, you have to tell the story of his father. His dad owned a cleaning business, sub-contracted through Stop and Shop. After a time the company started pushing him to "do better", he was the type of boss to be out in the field working alongside his employees. So to figure out how the other crews were "doing better" than his company, he went out and observed them working on site.

"The only difference between these other crews and my dad's crew was that they were hiring illegal immigrants" said Isaac.

I prompted him to go on, he told me about his dad gathering information, and proof of the problem. Then he registered a complaint to Stop and Shop corporate. When they wouldn't listen he brought the issue to the city, then state governments. Writing letter after letter, searching and filing legal documents, only in the end to lose his company.

"That's how I got into this, my dad would have me proof-read his letters... make sure everything was correct... the grammar etc. This is how I started looking into politics, researching..."

Isaac's dad lost the business, put out by contractors who wouldn't pay employees a fair wage. They hired folks who either didn't know the difference, or didn't care because something was something, which is better than nothing right?

Isaac is a legacy, a man driven to take his father's story and stories like his to Main St. America. A college graduate with an entrepreneurial spirit, he is taking to the streets next Spring, walking from Maine to Washington, D.C. Stopping along the way setting up town hall meetings and talking to folks about these issues. I'll be joining him in Boston as he rolls through, maybe even trekking down to Providence, RI. But I digress.

Brittany arrived and we gave Isaac a ride back to his truck, joking and getting a bit lost along the way. We agreed to meet up later that night for a couple beers at Brittany's apartment, and to talk a bit more. Talk we did long into the night, finally saying goodbyes around 1:30 AM. I had to be up early to leave, Isaac had to be up early to train, Brittany didn't have to be up, but was kind enough to offer to suffer with me anyway.

I woke with a start at 11:00AM "shit" I thought to myself. Heading out that late was pointless, my shoes were still wet and it had started raining as I was getting my pack together. Brittany and I talked and she agreed to let me stay an extra day, waiting out the rain and heading out for some breakfast. We walked a couple blocks towards the city up Broadway, stopping in a Julians's for what turned out to be the most amazing pancakes I've ever had in my life. Carrot cake pancakes with cashew honey cream cheese and a side of sweet potato and broccoli hash with queso fresco. I've never tasted anything like it, rich but not so much to be overwhelming, a half-stack and a single side of hash fed us both.

We left Jillian's and meandered around town, walking to a bookstore, sticking around the Downtown area. When she left for work I sacked out for a quick nap, then wrote down notes from my previous day and that day, still unable to get to a computer to write it up. Tucking the notes in my pack I sacked out again, and woke when Brittany got home. Neither of us was quite sure what to get for dinner, eventually settling on Indian food, then a beer at Trinity, their Kolsch is just to die for. Just a bit heavier than a pils, but not so hoppy as a red and very refreshing. Isaac came by after dinner and we spent the night talking about our childhoods, comparing notes on three very different ways to be brought up. I was nodding off while smoking a butt when he left, saying our goodbyes I knew I'd see him in the spring or earlier.

I curled up on the couch and was immediately asleep, nothing left to to but wake in the morning and start walking again. Ready for anything I was headed for Coventry and two days of camping.

1 comment:

  1. "Carrot cake pancakes with cashew honey cream cheese and a side of sweet potato and broccoli hash with queso fresco."

    Holy crap.