Acted like a guy today.

Rented a pickup truck (if I were a real man, I’d already have one), went down to Home Depot and hired two day laborers(!) to help me move furniture into said truck. That was scary – what if I went up to a group of guys who were just standing around and offended them by implying that they were day laborers? What were the rules? What if they just decided to rob me? What if they became so offended by the sheer number of computers and video equipment in my apartment that they’d just rob me? Clearly, I watch too many news programs, and my fears were way out of line with reality.

I drove up to a group of about five guys leaning against a wall about a block away from the Home Depot (though within view of the parking lot). One of them called over to me, “How many?” “Two, for about an hour.” And just like that they were in my (rented) truck. They didn’t even discuss price, so I just said, “Twenty five each – is that okay?” It was okay, and the rest of it went smoothly. They knew much more about how to safely tie down my load than I did, so I bumped them up to $30 each. Dropped them off and that was that. No secret handshakes or protocols – point us at the work and give us money and it’s all that simple.

You have to understand – I get scared of being at grocery stores and sometimes drive up to work, turn around in the parking lot and go home because I’m just that scared. So this was a big deal for me.

And in true guy spirit, when I was unloading the truck, I threw out my back.

So, that’s that. This is MPSIMS, and you are there.

Hmm, I will need some day labourers soon (my bastard of a back yard is creating mounds of stuff that has to go). LA is too far, but I don’t think day labourers hang around my local Home Depot. What to do, what to do?

In which aisle do they keep the day laborers anyway?

As someone who is diagnosed agoraphobic, I totally understand what a huge freaking big deal that is. I haven’t been in a grocery store without another adult with me in 6 years. What you did is so totally off my radar of things I’m capable of doing that I am very impressed. Congratulations!

:smack: Of course, these were the ones outside.

It’s funny, I didn’t think the HD in my area had this system going. The ones I usually go to in the suburbs don’t but apparently (according to the Globe) one in the city of Boston does. The guys are usually from Mexico or Central America.

I know for awhile HD was trying to discourage it, being concerned with liability issues and all. I don’t know what the current corporate policy is.

We definitely do not have day laborers hanging out at HDs here in Ohio. And for the longest time, I couldn’t really figure out what Carlos Mencia was talking about during his frequent Home Depot/Mexican jokes (and I mean frequent…Christ man, get a new set).

No surprise, really, because we have very little immigrant population around here. Too bad, it sounds like a sweet deal to me.

Well done, groo. I can completely understand why doing something like that is worthy of feeling proud about, being a very nervous type myself.

We could do with a casual labour system like that here - I’ve got two heavy wardrobes that need shifting upstairs, and that needs strong people who know how to use ropes to get them 7’ up over banisters.

Hire Laurel and Hardy! :smiley:

When I lived in LA, we hired day laborers once to move a piano. We didn’t have to do more than drive up, and lickety-split several guys had swarmed into the back of my friend’s pickup. We only needed two so we had to kick some out, but they were great, did a great job, were very careful and courteous, and it was a good deal all around.

I had never done it before, either, but I was really impressed with how easy it was, too. Congrats on going that far out of your comfort zone, and also for paying the guys a decent wage!

Cool story, groo. And while you have the truck, I have this old safe that I’ve promised to my nephew. Would you mind moving it a block for me? The humidity is down right now in Nashville if you hurry…

Geez, I live a sheltered life. You go down to HD and hire guys right off the street to do stuff for you? I had no idea. Who was the guy you spoke to? The one who said “How many?” Does he get a cut? What exactly is this system? Really, I’m completely clueless.

Psst… If you need day laborers, try near Foss Park in Somerville. It’s about a quarter mile from the Home Depot on Mystic Ave.

Don’t mention I sent you.

It’s just the way it was described in the OP. Lots of men, most illegal immigrants, gather in the morning somewhere close to a large building supply store. Anyone from a contractor needing a crew for a week to an individual as the OP described, can paticipate. You drive up and state your needs, negotiate on the spot, and off you go. The laborers are paid in cash, and the words “taxes” or “workmans compensation” never get used. It’s a large and thriving underground economy, coming soon to a place near you.

Whenever I hear of some guy running on the immigration issue, and learn that he made his fortune in the construction industry (One guy in Arizona comes to mind, though his name escapes me) I just have to laugh.

I’ve done this numerous times when I lived in LA. The system worked like this: Drive over by the guys (usually Mexican in LA) and hold up fingers for how many men you need for the day. Do this right away or you’ll soon have a whole truckload of people! Usually there’s a honcho who speaks english to negotiate the price with. I paid by the hour and included trip time and transportation (almost obligitory). The honcho sits up front with you and if you need a specific talent he’ll recommend someone. When negotiating, the first price you mention to the honcho is never going to be enough, so start low and come up to a decent wage. These guys do great work and usually are a lot of fun to be around once they get to know you.
Pay well, tip well, and you’ll get “marked” and next time get most of the same guys.

So the honcho – who is he? Does he get a cut? And then does he have to pass a bit of his cut up the line? Who’s at the top? I guess I’m asking if Tony Soprano or someone like him is at the top of the chain.

We do have a “cash corner” close to the homeless shelter here - would that be the same sort of deal, do you suppose? I guess the homeless guys who are actually looking for some cash work on cash corner wouldn’t likely be the ones who just want to drink rubbing alcohol in the park all day?

The “honcho” is not in charge of the group. He’s just the the guy who speaks english well enough to negotiate with you. Say you have a group of about 30 guys standing around, the guy who gets your attention and speaks english well enough is the “honcho” of whatever group of people you take with you. This person will ask you about the job and suggest other workers. The next person to pull up for workers will have a diferent “honcho”.

I’ve done this once when I had to move apartments. It was kinda frightening because as soon as I pulled up my car was immediately surrounded and people were piling in my car. Then my “honcho” got everything sorted out and we went on our merry way. They did fantastic work and even gave me business cards in case I needed painting or what not.

I think this is a fantastic system. Around here the standard rate is $10/hr or $100 per day. There are immigrants who are not illegal who choose day laborer work because it’s tax free and you can make quite a bit more than minimum wage if you can get steady work.

Never mind immigrants – the way everyone is describing this, I’m considering switching careers myself. The tax free bit sounds particularly appealing.

Good for you! Hope the back heals up okay.

Did you ever think of starting an “ask the” thread?