Norman Echeverri’s life once glowed with promise. He held a job at a company in Medellín, Colombia, had a car, laughed, played cards with friends.
Then his company closed.
Twenty years ago the winds of the global economy blew him ashore in Jackson Heights, Queens. He married a lovely Colombian woman and they had a son. But prosperity sidestepped them.
This 52-year-old with deep circles under his eyes pushes wheelchairs at Terminal B at La Guardia Airport. He made $7.25 an hour until his company, PrimeFlight, cut him to $6.15. Why, he asked. Sometimes you will get a tip, they explained.
He recently lifted a 350-pound passenger. His back locked up and he walks askew. His arms grow numb from tendinitis.
“My life is not easy but they tell me there are a thousand out there who would take my job.” He shrugs. “My story, it is the story of a lot of people who work here.”