Sunday, November 13, 2011

BUS STORY # 262 (David Ortega Is Looking For Work)

Painter by busboy4
Painter, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.

I met David on (where else?) the bus.

He’d just had the greatest luck with a connection -- off one bus, around the corner, and here comes the other bus -- and it has just started raining.

He’s laughing at his good luck as I’m folding up my umbrella to board.

We end up in the back, sitting across from one other, and get to talking.

He’s a painter.


House, inside and out, garage, fences, you name it. He also does stucco work, and he’s not a half-bad carpenter, but painting is what he does best.

Who does he work for?

Himself! And not only is he good, he’s fair. He’ll match his bid against anyone’s.

He recently finished a job for $400. The other two bids were $1500 and $2000. Those bids might have included the paint. But he doesn’t include the paint. He lets the customer buy whatever paint he wants. He provides the rest -- brushes. rollers, ladders, drop cloths, edgers.

Four rooms in one day. He knows what he’s doing and he doesn’t mess around.

How’s work these days?

He makes a face. Not so good. Times are hard.

So how does he advertise?

Word of mouth. People who know his work spread the word. And he’s got cards at all the paint stores in town.

He pulls out his wallet, takes a card from it, and hands it to me.

Has he gotten jobs this way?

He sure has. The people at the store know him, know his work.

He’s also got a couple of newspaper articles he doesn’t have with him, and he needs to get them laminated before they start tearing.

From here in Albuquerque?

No, one is from Liberal, Kansas. He went up there to help paint a museum. One day, everybody had gone home, but he was still working. A photographer took his picture, then talked to him about his work. Next thing he knew, he was in the paper.

And people recognized him. Hey, aren’t you that guy in the paper? He got job offers because of that article.

Where was the other article from?

California. Another museum job. He was dismantling a scaffold when he heard someone yell, “Hey!” He turned around and this guy snapped his picture. It was in the paper the next day.

While he’s been telling me his stories, I’ve been looking at his business card.

The first thing I notice is the bottom right corner. It’s been cut off. Above the shear is a hand-written local phone number.

The second thing I notice is the middle of the card. Where one might expect to see the name of the person or the business, I see “SNOW WHITE.” And beneath that, “Salinas, Cal.”

At the top of the card, the word “Painter” has been hand-written.

The upper left corner has something blacked out.

The lower left corner has the name “David Ortega.”

I’m pretty sure I’m looking at a paint chip for the color Snow White with the paint brand name sheared off the lower left corner, and which has been made into a business card for one David Ortega.

I’m guessing David must have recently moved here from Salinas and hasn’t had time to update his card.

“So how long have you been here in Albuquerque?”

Twenty years.

Twenty years!

Well, except for that six-year stint in Kansas and the shorter one in California.

So why does he have Salinas, California, on his card?

Because that’s where he’s from. He’s proud of where he came from.

You gotta love an answer like that.

And regardless of how he came by those paint chips, you gotta love the ingenuity.

He asks me to spread the word.

I tell him I will.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was raining? you carry and umbrella in Albuquerque?
jk it was a great story.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Ah, I see you know about our annual 7.something inches. As for the umbrella, here in Albuquerque, there are only two known ways to make it rain: 1) schedule the State Fair; 2) leave your umbrella at home when you’re taking the bus.

8:29 PM  

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