Walk Like An American

Southern Living

First Days on the Job

Alabama fans with Constantino

Constantino Diaz-Duran is a fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University. He is chronicling his walk from New York to Los Angeles to celebrate his eligibility for American citizenship. Follow Constantino’s progress.

A recurring joke over the course of my walk has been that “if you’re walking like an American, you should be driving!” Well, for the next month I will be doing just that. My ride is an SUV borrowed from my host. Pretty American, right?

I get up at 6 a.m. to be at work by 7. I’ve discovered at least three country music stations on the dial in Tuscaloosa. I’m totally into it. I alternate between “The Bear” and “The Bull”, but my mind couldn’t be further away from Wall Street and the markets. I stop at a gas station every morning and run in to grab a cup of bad coffee-the awfulness makes me wake me up and utter a four-letter word with the first sip, though, so I guess it’s doing its job.

I’m working for a roofing company. The crew is pretty cool. Half of them speak English, and the other half Spanish. One of the English-speakers asked me today if I can give him some lessons after work. I used to moonlight as a tutor, so I’ll be glad to help him out. Since I’m still learning the ropes, I mostly just carry their ladders, help load and unload the truck, and hand them stuff. The boss got insurance for me yesterday, so I’m now allowed to climb up with them. I’m still figuring out how to keep my balance on pitched roofs, but I have thus far avoided this.

One thing I’ve learned is that tailgating is so much fun. And there’s so much food. And it’s all so good. This is a bye week for the University of Alabama, but LSU is coming to Tuscaloosa on November 5. That’s going to be a good game, and I hear that Tigers fans are “brazen,” so I’m sure the town will be crazy that weekend. I don’t have tickets to the game, but I have three tailgate parties to attend that day, so all is good.

I am forced to report that I have gained a few pounds in the last 10 days. But worry not, I’ve already found a gym that let me join just for the month. I still fully intend to enjoy everything the South has to offer and leave with a flat stomach.

On a more serious note, I’ve decided to do a few short road trips to other parts of the state while I’m here. Some Mexican immigrants I met said I must go to a town north of Birmingham called Cullman, where the immigrant population claims the Ku Klux Klan is active, and targeting them. I want to see how much of that is true. I also want to have more conversations with immigrants, legal and illegal, to learn about their lives under the new law.

In the meantime, I will keep on working, learning, and writing for y’all. Roll Tide!

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*Photo by Constantino Diaz-Duran.