Dear Gabacho: Y’know, that’s been the same argument used against immigrant laborers since Samuel Gompers was agitating to keep “Mongolians” from reaching our Pacific shores and railing about hordes of southeast Europeans destroying the gains that his American Federation of Labor made for the American working man. “The workers of America have felt most keenly the pernicious results of the establishment of foreign standards of work, wages and conduct in American industries and commerce,” the union pioneer wrote in a 1916 issue of the American Federationist. “Foreign standards of wages do not permit American standards of life. Foreign labor has driven American workers out of many trades, callings, and communities, and the influence of those lower standards has permeated widely”—wait a minute, how did Glenn Beck manage to sneak himself back in time? The great irony, of course, is that immigrant labor is the most-bountiful spigot in the modern-day labor movement, and always has been. Simply put, Timmy: American workers need cheap labor, legal or not, to spur them into class consciousness and better their lot—or do you think Old Man Rockefeller simply allowed the eight-hour work day to happen out of the goodness of his raisin heart? Oh, and your concerns about your unassimilated colleagues? Again, Gompers: “Of course the children of immigrants go to school, and after a few years they become Americanized. But how about the grown-up persons, the adults? Who makes an effort to Americanize them? The labor organization.” Instead of whining about non-assimilating illegals, maybe you should help them become Americans? If you don’t, then you have no right to chillar.
Why do Mexicans seem to always have four different ATM cards and have to use each and every one of them when visiting the machine despite the fact that there are seven people backed up in line behind them?
—All the Merrier
Dear ATM: Just getting ready for the weekend, amigo! One fund to feed the family, otra to wire money back to the motherland, a couple bucks for booze and the largest pot to use for padrino purposes at multiple weddings, baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations and quinceañeras—pinche fecund Mexican loins . . .
I tried to find an article search on the word paisano or paisa. I heard conflicting definitions from two different Mexican coworkers that the word means “homeboy” or “wetback.” I was wondering if this is the equivalent to the n-word for Latinos?
—Thinking out Loud
Dear Gabacho: The n-word . . . you mean naco? Paisano literally means “countryman,” but has a secondary definition referring to country folk (both paisano and peasant ultimately share the same etymological madre: the Latin pagus, country or rural district). Combine the two meanings, and you have a synonym for “ buddy,” as one of your coworkers accurately noted. But bigmouths long ago warped the rural sentido to turn it into paisa, slang for a wab—in other words, a paisa is a Mexican redneck, a FOB . . . a wab! Does it carry the same weight as nigger? No, that would be gabacho—but don’ t tell gabachos that!
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