Catching Out: The Secret World of Day Laborers by Dick J. Reavis

Books about the working poor have gained a wider readership in recent years, thanks to authors such as Barbara Ehrenreich.  Her acclaimed Nickel and Dimed focused on hourly employees – the big box store cashiers, the waitresses, the maid companies and such.  In Catching Out, author Reavis takes on as subject the workers at day labor halls, and like Ehrenreich, becomes one himself.  Here he learns the extremes of the jobs that get handed out – the really grungy situations where the industrial dust and dirt are a hazard to anyone, the handling of heavy items that are dangerous to life and limb, and even the jobs where exertion and purpose are questionable.

His coworkers range from ex-cons to near-blind hapless.  He works his tickets, or temporary daily job assignments, with characters from the whole gamut of the human (largely male) psyche.  He learns the hardness of the day labor gig, its uncertainty, the grind of the jobs involved, and ultimately the humanity and care of his peers at the labor hall.  And the reader will learn the extremes that some people will go just to get by.

Recent books of similar subject matter:

Working in the Shadows by Gabriel Thompson

Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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