A receipt with more value than it displays

This weekend I woke up quite late due to dinner with some friends that lasted longer than we were expecting. When I opened my eyes, I looked at my phone and saw a message from my Dad. A single picture of a receipt, with my name and my signature. That single receipt had so much memory attached to it that it’s even hard to describe. For that, I have to go back 2 decades.

I was around 15-16 years old, going to school in the mornings, and staying at home during the day. For the most part alone, since my Mom worked from 8 to 6 and my Dad was trying to make his company work.

It was getting closer to the Brazilian Carnival, quite a popular holiday that usually lasts for 1 full week. My Dad managed to get a new contract to remodel a school. New roof, some new areas, painting the classrooms, windows, doors. So he called me to work: “… son I need someone to help the constructors in the school, I would like you to come work with…”.

Without much thought, I went to work. It was hard, carrying bricks closer to the guys that were building the new areas, helping the painters doing the boring work painting the windows and helping the carpenters to put all the required new roof tiles on the roof.

I’m not even sure how big the roof was, but I have a clear memory that I carried so many roof tiles that in my perception it was a huge roof. The process was simple, get the tiles from the outside of the school’s walls, move them close to the building, put them in a box that was tied to a pulley, and pull that box upwards until it reaches the top of the current roof where another person would take the tiles out of the box and stack them. Another guy was helping me move the tiles, so we would take turns on who would stay on the ground filling the box and pulling the rope, and who would stay on the roof staking the tiles.

After having a good amount of the tiles on the roof, we would then move them closer to where the carpenter was working. I remember us laughing and cursing at the same time when we bumped our shin and/or head on the structure that holds the tiles.

I remember waking up, going to work, working hard, and going back home at night like there was no energy left in my body every day of the holiday. When the holiday was over, the job was done. I signed the receipt to my day, he paid me for the days I’ve worked.

I didn’t get much money, my Dad’s company was struggling at that time, but I had such an experience, I got the respect from the guys that worked with my Dad at that time. I was the boss’s son, and I was working as hard as all of them. I learned to paint houses, I learned how to build a roof even though I haven’t built another one, I learned how to work with brick and mortar, and most important of all I learned that everyone has something to learn and something to teach independent of how much you went to school.

The time was so tough for my Dad at that time, I’m not sure if he thought about the impact this experience would have on me. But I’m glad he put me to work on that construction site and sign that receipt.

Love you Dad.