[Gif credit | originally here]
So here’s a thing: Dad Mills was almost definitely a flooring installer.
My dad has been laying floors for 40 years this year; I grew up being hauled around between shop and warehouse and job in the summer, because I could entertain myself and my parents didn’t trust childcare. When I was eight, I got sat down with a hand-stapler and a roll of carpet binding and the remants my dad had cut down to welcome-mat size, and he and mom and I made welcome mats that we sold on the side of the road. (And God, I haven’t thought about that in nineteen years.)
There’s two kinds of kids who show up at carpet stores: the children of people who are having their houses done, and the children of people who are doing the installation. And the “used to take” implies that it was a repeated visit (like when you go down to hound the owner for your check; god, how many times I sat in the car while Dad wheedled and cajoled and got paid less than his work was worth), that repetitiveness implies that someone in her family — someone charged with either worked in the store itself (sales, reception, receiving), or acted as labor for
And I’ll tell you something about the carpet industry: it’s feast or famine. Some months Dad worked 12-16 hour days seven days a week, and some months he didn’t work at all. You pay your help before you feed your family. Supplies come out of your check, and 90% of the time the boss doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing and doesn’t pay you like he should and has a power complex the likes of which I’ve never seen in my life.
(My experience is Southern California and Nevada - Mom and I are white girls, but Dad’s Mexican-American with an East L.A. accent so thick you can slice it, and he’s brown. He’s also a fucking craftsman - his work is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, his seams are invisible even with patterned carpet, and I’ve literally watched him bend the laws of physics filling a room with carpet that is smaller than the room. For the last 20 years, since the family lost the store we owned and he started working for other people, I’ve watched boss after boss defer to his dumbass [white] helpers, speak to him insultingly slowly despite his English being flawless due to being a native speaker. I’ve watched my uncle - his brother, same parents, but Joe caught the white genes and Dan caught the brown ones - climb and climb and climb and make more money and receive more respect than Dad ever did, in large part because this trade is racist as fuck.)
It is not a fun trade or a stable trade in general but it is an especially non-awesome trade to be a minority in.
And just. So much sympathy for the Mills sisters because I would never wish growing up with parents in the flooring business on anyone. (Incidentally climbing on top of the rolls of carpet all stacked up like a giant pyramidal mountain is the best thing in the universe when you’re 8 and full of imagination and daring-do.)
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