The son of the cleaning lady considers work, money, and class

So many years have gone by now that the fact I don’t remember writing an essay as part of my application to college doesn’t mean I didn’t write one, though it does mean it wasn’t memorable.

Not so for Jonathan Abably, of Blaine, Minn. His essay on work, money, and class was good enough to get printed in the weekend New York Times.

He got to see variations of it all; his mom was the cleaning lady and he helped, he writes. He got to clean the home of two professors.

Their home was a sanctuary for my dreams. It was there I, as a glasses-wearing computer nerd, read about a mythical place called Silicon Valley in Bloomberg Businessweek magazines. It was there, as a son of immigrants, that I read about a young senator named Barack Obama, the child of an immigrant, aspiring to be the president of the United States.

The life that I saw through their home showed me that an immigrant could succeed in America, too. Work could be done with one’s hands and with one’s mind. It impressed on me a sort of social capital that I knew could be used in America. The professors left me the elements to their own success, and all my life I’ve been trying to make my own reaction.

Ultimately, the suction of the vacuum is what sustains my family. The squeal of her vacuum reminds me why I have the opportunity to drive my squealing car to school. I am where I am today because my mom put an enormous amount of labor into the formula of the American Dream. It’s her blue Hoover vacuums that hold up the framework of my life. Someday, I hope my diploma can hold up the framework of hers.

His family were refugees from Moldova.

Young Jonathan will be attending the University of Minnesota.

(h/t: Krystyna Pease)

  • MrE85

    Break a leg, Jonathan.

  • Mike Worcester

    We are all the products of those who came before us. All of us, I believe, can point to someone(s) in our lineage that “make us who we are today”. It’s an excellent essay and reminds me why we should never look down upon those who do different work than us. All contributions should be valued. And that’s my Monday morning thoughts for the day 🙂

  • Al

    Thanks for sticking around, Jonathan. Minnesota’s lucky to keep you.