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TimeSpace: Half A Tank
TimeSpace: Half A Tank

Post photographer Michael Williamson is traveling across the country covering the economic situation.

Waiting it Out In Woodbridge

Wait1.jpg

Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

WOODBRIDGE, Va.--The plastic flowers under the stop sign told me we were at the right spot. I had come to this street corner three years earlier, not long after I started at The Post, to cover the death of a day laborer at the hands of another.

One had broken a sacred rule and underbid the other in search of a job. Punches flew. Words were exchanged. And days later, a guy nicknamed “Mutt,” who had stood on this corner for 20 years, taking whatever job one of the moving companies in the Prince William County area had to offer, was dead.

The flowers were for him. What had struck me before and did again today was that they were plastic – cheap and permanent.

“It isn’t like it used to be,” Umberto Santiago, 53, said when I asked him about the search for work. He’s been coming to this corner since the 1990s and knows that when people don’t move, work doesn’t come.

“But you’ve seen a recession before?” Michael asked.

“Not like this,” Santiago said. “Everything’s going up except for the money.”

On this day, Santiago was the first to arrive at the corner, at 5:30 a.m. By 1:30 p.m., after the other eight or so men had left for either a job or home, he remained waiting. The flowers were still there too.

By Theresa Vargas  |  June 3, 2009; 8:03 AM ET
Categories:  Scene along the Street  
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Next: Into the Woods In Prince William

Comments

"...One had broken a scared rule..."

perhaps "sacred"?

Posted by: random-adam | June 3, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand this blog. Are you going on a road trip across the country, or just aound DC? What route out of town are you taking that leads you from DC to Wheaton to Woodbridge? That seems rather circular...

Posted by: mccxxiii | June 3, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

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