The Man From Brazil

We had some construction going on at the new house over the weekend.

And the end result made at least three, possibly more, people really happy.

Now that we have the room for it – and now that we don’t have a park around the corner to walk to – wanted to put in a swingset for the kids.

And my wife.

See, as a stay-at-home mom, keeping the kids busy and active is a priority. Always going places can be cost prohibitive. But staying home can be a death sentence to Mom, too.

But yet, this swingset isn’t like that old metal two-swing set that we all used as kids, the one that left our hands red from the rusty pipes.

No, this is a swingset on steroids. I think I paid more for this set than I did my first car.

Enter Robert.

He was tasked with building this thing. I thought it would be a crew of a few.

Nope. Just Robert. And his wife. And their little Yorkie dog.

He showed up around 8:30 a.m. Unloaded his truck, pulled his cart filled with materials into the backyard, and accepted the cup of coffee I offered him.

By 1 p.m., under the four watchful child eyes of Olivia and Chase – and the four doggie eyes of Bella and Roxie – he was done.

A really nice guy. I noticed he was wearing a t-shirt with the Brazilian flag on it, so I told Liv to go over and ask him to speak Portuguese.

“Você é uma menina bonita” he told her.

He said he was born in Brazil, but had lived in the United States, and New Jersey, since he was ten. Still, I could hear an accent. We talked about the FIFA World Cup, soccer, the Olympics, the bed-and-breakfast he hopes to get off the ground in São Paulo.

Right near the water he said, with the boats.

You could see his eyes light up as he thought about it.

I asked him how many of these things he builds each summer.

He sighed and said “We’d – I normally have other guys – used to do four, five a day. Now, with the economy, I’m lucky to do one a day. But it’s OK. I stay busy.”

He was a really nice guy with a good face and a nice smile.

When he was almost done, I asked if I could shoot his portrait.

He agreed, gave me a good look, and he became #86 in my 100 Strangers Project.

And when he was done, too, he said that he was done for the day. Said he was going to take his wife out for her birthday today.

Before he drove off, I slipped a tip into his palm and thanked him.

Like I said, he made one mom, one dad, and two little kids really, really happy.

Already this swingset has been a pirate ship, a space ship, a mountain to climb…and yeah, just a thing to plain old swing.

© Mark V. Krajnak 2012 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved

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