My friend Stefano is a builder in Italy. He built my house and we have two joint projects that he is currently working on. He has a group of guys who work for him. Most of these guys have been with him for a long time. They eat lunch together. They smoke together and take coffee breaks together. In the afternoon when they aren’t drinking coffee they’re drinking beer or wine. The kid in the picture is 18 years old. I have forgotten his name. He has been working with Stefano for a few years and I noticed on this trip how integral part of the crew he has become. He works really hard and seems to be trying to prove something.
Stefano told me he was 18 when he started to work with his father. His father called him Milanese because he was always trying to do everything. In Italian there is a phrase “ci penso io” which means I will take care of it. Whenever there was something to do Stefano would say “ci penso io”
This young kid reminds me of how Stefano must have been as an 18 year. I did not hear him say “ci penso io”, but he sure was trying to do everything.
When I was 18 I was finishing high school and getting ready to go to college. I had no desire for manual labor. I was interested in drinking, girls and not much else. I was pretty fortunate that I didn’t have to work a job to support myself. I did work as a bartender, but the work was nothing like what this young kid is up against.
I also had these dreams and ideas about my future and what I was going to do, but in the end what I have learned over these last few years traveling to Italy is that I would love to build or restore an old, abandoned building in a medieval village. I would love to see the results of my hard work and I would also love to see the looks on the faces of the people who I built the house for.
20 years from now this kid will probably be doing exactly what Stefano does.
He is in college now, but one that is quite a bit different than the school I attended.