¡Ask A Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
Dear Gabacho: The facts? I ain’t short, dark, little, weak or gay—not that there’s wrong with any of those characteristics. Anchor babies (better known as “American citizens”) can’t save their illegal-immigrant parents from getting deported. Illegal immigrants can’t vote. Mexicans didn’t lose the Mexican-American War—don’t you know about the demographics in the American Southwest? Illegal immigrants are largely unable to get federal aid, state driver’s licenses or even a smile from their neighbors. And if Mexicans didn’t assimilate, then why am I writing to you in English and quoting the Brothers Johnson when I suggest you get the chingado out of my face?
Dear Mexican: I recently hired a young Mexican man who was looking for work at a local hardware store parking lot. Some cultural issues (at least I think that they were cultural issues) came up. I am hoping that you can give me some guidance for negotiating and working with a young Mexican man.
This young man turned out to be very strong and agile and worked fast. However, he always came with a “cousin” that I felt I had to pay. His cousins (three of them) were not as competent as this young man and, in my mind, didn’t want to work. I ended up paying them, which was a mistake. He later became frustrated with these cousins himself.
Time was an issue. This young man would come and start working when I was at work without previous arrangements and would fail to come or call when he had made arrangements. He had worked for painting contractors that seemingly were not concerned about environmental impact or durability of the paint job. One example: He came one day when I wasn’t home and hadn’t made previous arrangements and painted over an area that had mildew buildup. Nonetheless, he felt that he was the “professional” and didn’t want to listen to my instructions.
Do you have any recommendations?
—Home Depot Hero
Dear Gabacho: Primeramente, your workers’ so-called primos weren’t his cousins. Blue-collar Mexicans, while frequently working alongside family members, don’t tolerate flojos in their ranks but do call colleagues primos as a form of endearment and are always looking out for them; could very well be the Mexican you hired was as disappointed in his primos as you. More importantly: while since you’re probably hiring illegal-immigrant labor, you’re entitled to the work that you paid for. So this falls on you: did you pay the jornalero a living wage? If so, you’re entitled to whatever work you ask for, at the time that you want. Or are you codo and paying him below market because you’re paying under the table? Then you deserve the crap job you’re getting, exploitative lawbreaker—don’t you know it’s illegal to hire illegals?