Sunday, February 16, 2014

Working Hard to Make a Living

I met Mario when he came aboard to wash our boat two weeks ago.

We pulled into Atlantis after a rough crossing from Spanish Wells, saltier than a Soda cracker, encrusted top to bottom, a total mess.  In his quiet and unassuming way, he went to work.  For three hours, Mario rinsed, soaped, scrubbed, dried and polished until Steadfast gleamed as new in the Bahamian sunshine.

For the past three days, I've watched him on several other boats, always hard at work.  His attention to detail puts me to shame, when it's my turn for boat washing duty.  I chatted him up.

Born and bred in Nassau, he finished high school here and went to work for himself.  No partners.  No bosses.  A solo man.  41 years old and single, he lives with, and cares for his 107 year old grandmother.  A non-drinker, vegetarian, clean-living, hard-working man, he has an enviable reputation.

Nathan said -He's the best, Mon!  Been a long time in the game.  Knows a lot of people, Mon.  Does a good job.

When I told Mario what Nathan had said...
-Whoa!  Nathan, Mon, he's big competition.  He's good too.

Evidently, there are 6 regular guys, who turn up every day to vie for the work available when new boats come into the marina.  There are others, who come around once in a while, but the 6 regulars are always in friendly competition.  They back off when they know one or the other usually works a specific boat.

-How much work do you usually get, I asked him?

-From September til now, nothing much at all.  Now we're in high season and I'm getting 3 to 4 boats a day.  That'll last till about August.  I don't push it now, like I used to.  I have 3 vans I rent out and I occasionally get over to Fort Lauderdale.  I buy cars, import them here and sell them.  My dream is to make a decent living without all this physical labour.  My back is know.

He told me about the 160 foot charter boat that comes into the Nassau harbour every couple of months. A "regular" boat will take 3 to 5 hours to clean, top to bottom.  This big one would arrive around 4 in the afternoon.  Mario would begin working it at 4:30 and not stop, all night, all the next day, until 3 the next afternoon.  Non-stop work.  Pushing it.  Three days later, after an outing, the same boat would be back and it would begin all over again.

-I go to work every day.  There are no holidays.  A day off is a day I get no work.  Like I said, I don't do that no more.  Too much.

I asked if he was working to live, or living to work.  He laughed.  He said he and his buddies had just been discussing that very question.  Captain B had asked him to do our stainless and chrome.  A big job.  If he'd asked me, I'd have given it about 2 hours tops.  A slap-dash job.  Mario declined the work, saying it was just too much.  It would be an all day job the way he'd do it.

Captain B recommends him highly, gives rave reviews.  Mario is a hard worker, requiring no supervision.  He is of excellent character and high moral standing.  His work is without fault.  Next time you pull into Atlantis and need your boat washed, ask for Mario.  He's the best!

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