Michael Lawson: The consummate household worker
He sat quietly in the audience, barely moving in his chair. Though he chatted with others at the elegantly decorated table, Michael Lawson could not contain his anxiety. He was nervous! He was going up against two others, but he really wanted the top prize.
Lawson was elated when it was announced that he was the GraceKennedy Heather Little-White Male Household Worker of the Year. Unfazed by the stigma of being a male in a female-dominated industry, he accepted his trophy and prize monies with pride etched across his face.
"I went to the function and when I looked around I began to get nervous because I realised I had real competition," Lawson told Flair.
"It feels good to know that a man can become the top male household worker. I want males to rise above the stigma and understand that work is work, once you can do it," Lawson said.
Lawson was the watchman on site while the home of his current employer was being built, and was kept on as the handyman after its completion. However, six years ago, after the household helper left, Lawson became a jack of all trades - a decision he has not regretted.
He lives by the mantra, 'By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread,' and so, for the past 10 years, has continued to excel at his job.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of. As long as you know you will get rewarded for it and you don't have to ask anyone for anything, and you are able to take care of yourself and your family," Lawson stated confidently.
Lawson is an only child, and grew up in the community of Beeston Spring in Westmoreland. He is no stranger to 'turning his hands and making fashion' as he grew up in a relatively poor household.
"It was very difficult, but I had to pull through it. My mother was ill and sometimes I went to school maybe two days out of the week," Lawson recalls.
He tells Flair he wanted to be a mechanic, but unfortunately, these dreams were not realised and he turned to farming instead. "Farming was my livelihood. I used to raise chickens, and I plant tomatoes, carrots, yam, corn and callaloo. I was always trying," Lawson said.
Lawson, who occasionally visited Kingston, was asked by his now boss to be the watchman at the property while it was being built. "One night, people came to steal things but I wasn't afraid because I had the experience," he recalled.
The father of two grown boys and the grandfather to one little girl says he structures his workdays and at times even takes on additional tasks throughout the day.
"I start early in the morning. I get up at 5 a.m. and then I do outside work first before I go inside. I am normally up until the boss gets home. Sometimes if I am not well I will tell them, and then I would get some rest," Lawson said.
Lawson received $300,000 from GraceKennedy, $25,000 worth of gift vouchers from Hi-Lo Food Stores, a $30,000 savings accounts at First Global Bank Limited and a trophy.
He beat out four short listed nominees, including Earnestar Smith, Herman Williams and Denham Coke, who took the first runner-up spot.