South Carolina complete.
I write you from my motel room here in Charlotte, NC. I arrived this afternoon from Charlestown, SC after spending the last three plus days installing a cement paver patio. From quiet despair on Saturday afternoon to complete joy Sunday morning. As I posted on my blog page, this gig was all about timing. Both for Griff, the young man who hired me but especially for the Juanjohn!
On Saturday late afternoon I was ready to bolt for North Carolina as I weathered the heat in a Greenville public park. I figured then that Charlotte, my next stop, was just across the border in North Carolina and if need be, I would have to cross back over later. I checked the CL in Charleston and responded to an ad for paver work. As I sat in my truck ready to head north, Griff answered my email. I asked him for a few more details about the job and sent him some pictures of my work. He responded positively and I bolted instead south, back again to Columbia, half way there in case things didn't work out.
Once I arrived in Columbia, I ate while I waited for his response to my quote. We decided to meet early Sunday in Charleston, 110 miles away, and I headed south once more, this time for the coast! I was ecstatic about the opportunity, but still a little nervous. The old 'one in the hand, two in the bush' theory. I got in town too late to camp and too broke to get a room, so once again I slept in my vehicle at a local truck stop.
At seven thirty in the morning I arrived at the address he sent me. Griff and his dog, Walter, greeted me and he showed me the task. We came to an agreement and shook hands to seal the deal, the old fashion way. I asked him for a few bucks of earnest money, to rent a campsite and he agreed. I went to set up my tent and returned to start the job that same afternoon.
Griff had nearly 500 sqft of stones to install on site and everything I needed to finish the already started gig. The home is in the Ashley district of this historic city. The yard was completely covered by a huge pecan tree and other smaller varieties that provided plenty of shade for me the next three days. Once again the heat was my biggest obstacle as I drank gallons upon gallons of liquids to fight off the dehydration and cramps. Griff helped me remove some dirt that first day and bought me lunch a couple of days there after. A kind and well appreciated gesture.
Once again I was blessed with being hired by such a humble and greatful person. Griff, a tall, single and handsome young man with a cool and down to earth personally, let me have full control of the project. I guess my work did my talking for me after that first day. He kept stating how fortunate he felt that we were able to make contact, and I kept assuring him that the fortunate one was yours truly! He rescued me from not only the stress and struggle of finding just the right job, but also from the parking lots and public parks that I have made my new home for the forseeable future.
In the end, Griff was satisfied with the outcome and paid me the agreed wages along with a tip for gas. On top of that, he gifted me a super expensive six foot level! What a great kid! His parents should be proud of such a fine human being. I will never lose hope in people. There are plenty of good folks everywhere.
One of the greatest and most satisfying aspects of my journey has to be the continuing line of new friends I am meeting at every stop. I may not ever see Griff again, but now I have a good friend here in the beautiful city of Charleston, and you can believe that if Griff is ever in the AZ, he has a friend in me.
Now Charlotte and North Carolina are next.
Good evening friends,
This is my official Georgia gig.
After leaving Florida on Tuesday evening I was a bit apprehensive about Georgia. I saw a lot of opportunities in Atlanta but I didn't want to make the two hundred plus mile detourun. Instead I headed to Savannah on the coast. Mainly because I was hoping it would lead me right into nearby South Carolina. Once I got to the truckstop to sleep, I had second thoughts. Seeing only four or five recent post, I began searching in nearby Augusta. There it seemed more promising, so at 2:25 am I took off to the north.
I arrived at the Love's truckstop at 4:34 am and slept a couple hours in my truck. At 7am I headed for the Donkin Donuts for coffee. I scrolled through the short list of ads as I ate my bacon and egg bagel. I saw an ad for furniture assembly at a new construction site. I called the number to see if the gig was still open. The woman who answered said yes and off I went with the address, stopping only at the gas station to shave and change into my work clothes. This was by far the fastest gig I've scored so far. Unfortunately it would be the lowest paid gig as well. Again I had to remind myself that my purpose is to work and move forward.
The contact person on site was named Greg and after some trouble finding the right building, I started the day. I was issued a shirt and hard hat as required by the superintendent of the site, and there I went to work! I spent the next two days unloading a couple semis full of couches, chairs and tables. The rest of the hired crew Duke, Jason, Anthony and one other guy helped Greg unbox, assemble and stage the furnishings five floors high. I was the laborer and did most of the grunt work. The new building was a student dorm located at the Augusta University campus.
The gig was not a difficult one, but there were challenges. First of all the site was crowed with other trades rushing to meet the Thursday deadline, the elevator was small and not functioning for long periods of time and the constant heat from this heatwave continues to haunt me! I was inside most of the time, but the stairs and lack of air-conditioning made work conditions miserable at times. Still it beats digging a ditch I guess!
I have to say it was once again an enjoyable experience. Greg was a great boss and Duke, his assistant was also helpful. They made the gig run smoothly in the chaotic atmosphere. They were also under pressure, but never seemed stressed about it. A good quality for a person in charge. In a more quiet moment, Greg and I chatted about his past work experience, including his strong work ethic instilled by his father at a young age. He shared a story of picking peanuts, berries and other produce as a six year old with his siblings for entire days on end. They seemed like great memories for him as he recalled them.
Well I was in and out of Georgia so fast that I hardly had a chance to see much of this state. I will write a short review on my blog tomorrow. Now I'm on my CL search in South Carolina. Hopefully I'll have some good news soon.
Thanks for your support!
Florida is done!
Hello to all,
This is my official sunshine state gig. It seems like forever that I put the next one in the books, since my last two stops were unsuccessful the first time around, but I knew Florida would be a whole different story. With plenty of postings here in the Tampa area, it didn't take long for me to secure a Gig!
I rolled in to town last week and immediately began my search. I sent out a few inquiries and a paver post responded first. The contractor's name was Matthew and we met at the job site in the nearby suburb of Brandon. The gig needed to complete a large patio paver floor that someone else had started but didn't finish. The negotiated pay was less than my normal standard rate and Matthew kept his own as I tried to squeeze him for a higher amount. Guys in his position hold the cards, being able to sort through all the responses they receive from they're post. I had to remind myself that my purpose is not to make a killing or even a living, but just to survive and move forward. He appreciated the fact that I was well equipped and ready to go. I also had shown him some pictures of my work and that I believe clinched the deal.
I started Wednesday afternoon and after enduring some rain and the now normal southern heat and humidity, I finished yesterday afternoon. In the end, I installed 478 sqft. of cement pavers with the last 60 ft being a late addition by the pool as an extra bonus! Matthew ended up being a super guy to work for. After that first day, I convinced him that he hired the right Juan! He let me do my thing and didn't question or interfere with the work. The final payment ended up being satisfactory considering all the materials were already in place for me to just get it done. My only regret is that I inadvertently deleted the picture of Matthew and I to show you.
Nevertheless the experience was very positive and memorable, especially after I told him all about my tour and website. He really got excited about being a part of the adventure and wished me luck as I move forward. He of course wants to read the book when I complete my journey and will follow me as I continue on. Again, I was blessed working with a good person and hope that continues.
I will spend another week here in Florida, since the work is plentiful and I'm having a great time with my friend Yolie in St Petersburg. I will move north to Georgia on the 5th of July. I will continue to post from my Blog page until then! Thanks to all for your support!
I'm happy to report my Louisiana stop is in the books! I completed it yesterday late afternoon near downtown New Orleans. After arriving Wednesday afternoon I found the postings were few. But I hung on hoping something would eventually materialize.
On Friday I went to the nearby Home depot hoping to latch on to someone in need of help. As I waited in the parking lot along with some other prospective laborers, in the horrible heat and humidity of this heatwave, my wish came true.
I responded to an ad for a skilled helper and within minutes I got a response! The gentleman called me and asked me a few general questions about my skill set and asked if I would be willing to assemble some new furniture. I agreed to meet him at the designated location at 1:30 pm. I almost didn't inquire about this particular ad, since it stated part time to full. That's one of the struggles I face in my journey. Many times the postings available are suited for a guy like me, but my hit and run strategy eliminates me from a lot of opportunities. Still Steve, the contractor was willing to use me after I explained to him my purpose.
A Canadian native, he was a pleasant and good person to work for, even though it was for just a few hours. The gig wasn’t too difficult, but the humidity once again was my worst enemy. I put together eight pieces of patio furniture in the basement of a apartment complex near downtown and was finished by six thirty pm. Steve then took me nearby to pay me and meet his girlfriend, who took our picture and hooked me up with a bag of hand picked blueberries!
Once again I was blessed to be hired by a genuinely great person, and believe me, not all CL posters are nice, but my good fortune continues with clients willing to give the Johnny Man a chance! For a more detailed look at my Louisiana experience, follow my Blog log page.
Once again, thanks to Steve for the work and now on to Mississippi!
Asta la vista amigos, juanjohn
Texas is done!
After six days in Dallas this is my Texas gig! Because of the unstable weather this past week it took me longer to complete than normal.
On Sunday I started my search for a gig for Monday memorial day. I responded to an ad for a mason to finish a flagstone job. Within an hour the client resoponded. We made arrangements to meet that next day. Amad, the homeowner who hired me, started the project and elected to let a experienced old guy like me finish.
A flagstone job is difficult enough under normal circumstances, but with the off and on rain all week, it just made it more of a challange for me. Amad was very patient and understanding through out. He is a man who uses the CL list frequently with his home projects, so I was happy he went with me. He confessed a couple of others guys had seen the gig and decided not to take it on. Not all masons can do floorings , as not all masons can do walls or blocks. I fortunately can do both, so the gig was mine to complete!
Amad, a Pakistan native, truly was a good boss and I once again came away happy with the results and experience! Amad, a software engineer, was great to converse with while he kept me company and watch me work for much of the week. He definitely will be a person I will remember and revisit whenever I return to see my daughter in the future.
Now I moved on to San Antonio for a few days before heading to the Big Easy, New Orleans !
I pray that the goodwill continue going forward and that the weather improves.
Thank you for your support and see you in Louisiana!
OKLAHOMA IS OK!
Good morning Friends,
I write you this morning from the Lone star state of Texas, I arrived here at my daughters apartment late last night, after a long day's work in Edmond, Ok. Unfortunately my laptop is still down and my post will be short.
After three days in the state is was losing hope. Finally on Wednesday night I responded to an ad for a carpenter's helper. Within a couple hours the gig was secured! I showed up the next three days to help refurbished a large backyard deck. My shovel finally got a rest!
The man who hired me, Mike M, was a joy to work for. He had full trust in my carpentry skills and left me and Alan, my helper, do the job for the better part of the three days. He asked if I would be willing to stay and help see the project to its completion, but I explained to him that I was on a tight budget and schedule and had already been in the state for six days. The tour must continue forward, I said.
In the end he paid me the agreed wages and all parties were satisfied. Once again the experience turned out with good results, after a couple of hairy days in camp waiting for the phone to ring.
The state was a beautiful place, at least what I saw of it, and the folks here were very friendly. There seemed to be a lot of fun tthings to do, but time and money didn't allow for much focus on anything else but work. I would love to return some day as a tourist!
I would like to thank Mike for the opportunity to work for him and wish him continued success! Now on to Texas!
New Mexico on the books!
This my New Mexico gig, finally! I completed it today in Albuquerque and this is how it came about.
After spending the last four days in Santa Fe, I rolled into the capital city on Friday afternoon. After a lunch at Blake’s Burgers and buying a used tire at Tony’s Tire Shop, due to the flat I got in Colorado, I began my daily search for a gig for the next day. The pickings were slim, but I noticed one in particular.
I saw an ad looking for moving help on Saturday morning and immediately sent an inquiry. After spending the last four days in Santa Fe with my shovel and wheel barrel, it seemed like a nice change. I received a response within a few minutes as I was setting up my tent at a local RV park.
The gentleman named Robert then called me and we made arrangements to meet at his place at nine am. I was thrilled to get the job, along with two other guys. Since the gig would be significant.
After a small complimentary breakfast at the American RV Park, I arrived at the job ready to go! Robert and Aaron greeted me and the two other fellas hired to help them with their move. The agreement was four, possibly five hours of work at $25 an hour. Pretty decent for that kind of gig. I was looking for a huge moving truck and lots of boxes, but neither were present. The move was simply from one large unit to another, two numbers down. The challenge would be the amount of furnishings and items and the multi-level floor plans on both the new and old dwellings. The day was cool and breezy, perfect for such a task!
I tell you friends, the good Lord was shining on the Johnny Man with this gig! Not only did these two gentleman keep Carlos, Mario and myself hydrated with plenty of water and soda, but they also stopped us frequently for a breather! They also did plenty of moving themselves and were very friendly and patient with the hired help. For the most part, my experience is that people tend to be overly cautious and overprotective of their personal things in this type of scenario, which often makes for a very tense situation. But to their credit, they made us feel relaxed and didn’t micromanage our job performance. It was difficult and a bit heavy at times but the atmosphere created by our host lighten the load overall. They also had a large trailer to help move the bigger stuff. After the third hour, Rob’s mom brought us pizza for lunch and the five of us sat and got to know each other better.
A little after one pm we were done. I was tired and was ready to hit the road for Texas. The boss was happy with our effort and they both thanked us for our hard work. To top it off friends, Mr. Rob was way more than generous with our pay and the three of us walked away feeling fortunate we were picked, knowing Rob had received plenty of responses for his ad.
Even though Im just getting started and have forty-some more gigs to go, I can only pray that I find a few more like Mr. Robert along my journey! Good people are everywhere I believe.
Next stop, Oklahoma. Until then, so long amigos!
Good morning Friends.
I’m finally done with Utah! After five days here, I can finally put it in the books.
On Thursday I answered a call from a guy named Rex who initially hired me to help them install some siding on a mountain side home under construction in Park City. I met him on site and after viewing the job I did something I rarely do, I begged off the job! After assessing the task I chose to decline the gig for safety questions. I short, the setup was not what I considered safe or the equipment secure enough for me to take such a big risk of getting hurt. Im not afraid of heights but I’m not taking any unnecessary risks that can sidetrack my tour.
I thanked him for the opportunity and started back to the truck. To Rex’s credit he wasn’t bothered by my decision, but informed me that I wasn’t the first to decline the job! He then asked me if I would consider a lesser task at a lower pay, and I agreed. I spent the next two and a half days digging out a collapsed mountain of dirt that had caved in against the outer walls of one of their other projects a couple miles up the hill. It was a tough, dirty and tiresome job, but I got through it!
I met a couple of new friends aside from Rex and had a pleasant time working next to them. The weather was also great up on Parley Summit and Peter and Roman made the task a little easier. Young Peter hails from Maryland and is living the dream of snowboarding in Utah and hopes to transition to surfing full time someday. Roman is from Rwanda and braved the high ladders that first day. They were both outstanding young men I had the joy of working with.
I asked Rex if he would pose for the official Gigs photo but he declined. He is shy I suppose. Still he agreed to sign the back of the chart and wished I would stay I bit longer. He was I believe, satisfied with my work! I told him all about my adventure and he like Charlie in Phoenix, said he had travelled for work in many of the states himself. He told me to come back for more work, if I was ever in the area, and that he would recommend me to anyone!
Well that was my Utah experience and Im glad I came away with nothing but good and positive things to say about this beautiful and friendly place. See you in Denver next!
Arizona, stop #1
Good morning to all!
Now it’s an official tour! One down and forty-nine to go. Im here in Phoenix and yesterday I completed my first craigslist gig!
Just so you know, I plan to get a short bio on the folks who hire me, take a picture and have them sign the back of my map so it can be logged and confirmed. With their permission of course.
So this is Charles Carroll who posted an ad for some help with a couple palms. I originally had the day secured, I thought, for a mason job, but the other guy never got back to me at the appointed time. So late at night I messaged Mr Carroll and he responded immediately. We agreed on a price and I showed up in Tempe yesterday at 9:30. There could of have not been a better start to my adventure since Charlie went on to relate to me his own story after I explained my tour to him. As it turns out, Charlie took a similar journey back in 1976!
Originally from Des Moines, Iowa. At twenty years of age, he and a friend travelled the entire fifty states on their Honda 750 motorcycles! Even renting bikes in Hawaii to make it official. They endured snow storms, extreme heat in Yuma and a diesel trucker running them off the road on the way to Alaska. Just a few of the many exciting moments of their event! It took them ten months to complete their journey and the funniest thing he wanted me to say about his whole memorable experience was that he never took a shower the entire trip, not once! Using only lakes and rivers to wash up! Im not that daring in my old age!
Well I can only hope to continue to find work with nice, friendly persons like Charles. People with their own personal stories and are willing to share them with all of us!
Now on to Las Vegas, Nevada!
Hello Big Don, so glad you enjoyed my adventures! I really got to appreciate the beauty and diversity of this marvelous land. I'm almost done with the second book, and will deliver it in person!
Hi John, Finished your book. I loved it. I felt like I was traveling with you. You are a brave man traveling alone around the country. I am starting into your other trips on your website. Regards Don