[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: The Coconut Guys

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Coconut Guys

Around 1 PM today, I got a knock on the front door. It was a gentlemen who asked if he and his partner could take down the coconuts from my pair of coconut trees. "Sure", I said. I asked him if he was charging me for it, and he said "no, we take them and sell them".

I don't know exactly how they found my house, but I imagine it was the sight of my 40-foot plus coconut trees visible from the street that caught their eye. Trees filled with nice, big and green fruit. They drove a large van with a logo on the side which said in Spanish and English "El Hombre De Los Cocos" - The Coconut Man.

They carried a tall fruit picker to the backyard and got to work. One guy was wearing a hard hat, understandable because those coconuts can do some serious damage if they fall on someone's head from 40 feet up. The guy with the picker wasn't wearing a hat, interestingly enough he was the brave one while the guy with the hat was a bit more tentative. The picker guy had to urge the hard hat guy along a bit, telling him, "c'mon don't be scared".

I asked them how much they sell the coconuts for. "25 to 30 cents a piece", the picker guy said. "It's something, at least it's honest work", he went on to say in his Cuban accent.

I figured, they took approximately 75 coconuts from the tree, and their van was already filled with other fruit that they had already picked earlier. If they pick about 500 a day, which is probably a conservative estimate, they make $75 a day each, which amounts to about $9 an hour for an 8-hour day. Not bad for picking coconuts, and it provides a sort of community service since those green monsters can become lethal projectiles during a hurricane.

Seeing these guys stick a picker up in the air and yanking large coconuts down, picking them up off the ground and taking them to their van, and hearing the comment about it being "honest work" immediately brought to mind my reaction post to Ana Menendez's weekend column. These guys have probably been in this country for a short time. Based on their accents, they were Cuban. They understand that in order to make it in this country, you have to work hard and show a little ingenuity. These guys were dealt a bad hand by being born and raised in fidel-ravaged Cuba, just like those who are born in poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Miami are born at a disadvantage because of their environment.

I started to do a little yard work of my own, and as I was ready to check back up on them, they took off. I wanted to write down their phone number which was on the side of the van, but never got the chance. I didn't even get the chance to say thanks. They were in a hurry to go to the next house for more coconuts. After all, time is money.

Those who are born into bad situations do have choices, despite what some may think. You can be persistent, work hard and play by the rules, or you can sit back, lament your bad luck and watch opportunity after opportunity slip by. We are blessed in this country in that people are rewarded for hard work, ingenuity and playing by the rules.

Based on what I saw today, the "Coconut Guys" are off to a good start.


Blogger Tere said...

Dude, they could totally charge more for the coconuts and make some more money. Nothing beats picked-from-a-local-tree, side-of-the-road fruit.

8:14 PM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

Great post, thanks.

9:15 PM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

Another example: Latasha Parrish.

10:08 PM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Classic. Great writing my friend.

10:53 PM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger ziva said...

What a wonderful uplifting story and the perfect response to Ms. Menendez's pessimistic liberal view of the world. Great post!

7:46 AM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You GO, Coconut Guys!

9:34 AM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger Claudia said...

Great post- I really enjoyed it and it goes to show you that "trabajo es dignidad."


10:29 AM, May 05, 2007  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

A tremendous story, very well told. I enjoyed reading it.

11:51 AM, May 05, 2007  

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