To The Roofers (first letter)

Art schools, police stations and banks are the first sites of bloody mayhem.

Dear Boys,
I’ll never work with you people. Each shift looks like an exorcism of alcohol poisoning 150 feet up, 200 feet up, 400 feet up — a necessary process in the perpetual loop from the tavern to bed to work and back to the tavern. The guy I’m working for says only crazy bastards and the most desperate losers end up roofing. Workers’ Comp won’t touch ladder falls. If you’re too stupid or incompetent to steal successfully, or your behavioral problems and criminal record get in the way of employment, you roof. You’d get welfare if you hadn’t screwed it up somehow. That’s what they tell me.
Sure I’m tired on the job site most of the time and I mentally wander, but I am far from approaching your Quasimodo-like stature. I haven’t forgotten the first time it popped into my head. One of you lurched like a missing link sniffing the air (not uncommon), taking in a view of the mountains and the entire west end of the city. A world of promise, wealth, “natural” beauty, History and sophistication was staring back (and is always staring back — through you, past you), as if at a corpse, an episode of “Cops”, or someone shitting on the sidewalk.
You curse. You hit each other. You disappear behind the tile truck to do God knows what. I want you to scream. I am screaming without screaming as I watch you. I want you to torch the place. I want to see you drag the owner of the property up to the highest available point and…
Wait! What gives anyone the authority to judge?
In a reoccurring waking-dream you are enlisting an army of coffee barristas, a choir of call-centre trainees, a congregation of fastfood workers, a mob of taxi drivers. Everyone is singing a gospel-inflected tune together while sharpening kitchen knives and loading hunting rifles. You lead them through a stiff, dense chorus using a loudspeaker:
“The power of existing orders is sustained by co-optation. They cannot create. We will begin again. We’ll make something from nothing!”
Imagine a revolt that defies containment. Have you ever imagined the division of labor coming home to roost?
One of you keeps harping on without provocation that Trump is “a good man”.
I’ll never work with you people like this.
jeremy