“hey Max, check this out,” I say looking up from my newspaper.
“What is it?” our chief bus boy asks.
“You know your compadres who hang out on the street corner looking for work, the day laborers?”
“Well, it seems the boys over at Home Depot don’t like them very much.”
I read Max the article. A Home Depot in Austin Texas got aggravated with all the Mexican and Central American guys hanging outside the store looking for odd jobs and called the cops. The workers were all arrested for trespassing. And, in their sweep, the cops threw a Hispanic shopper, not a day laborer, into the paddy wagon too. Well, it’s an honest mistake. They all look alike don’t they?
Max shakes his head in disgust. “Culeros” he mutters.
“Can you imagine that poor guy?” I ask, “He goes to the store for 2×4’s and ends up in jail.”
“I hope he wasn’t illegal,” Max adds.
“You know what the bullshit part of all this is?” I ask.
“When Wal-Mart or Home Depot needs some cheap labor to clean the stores they’ll hire ‘em in a second.”
“Si,” Max replies, “And sometimes they get locked in the stores at night.”
“Yeah,” I say, “I heard that too.”
“You know what I think you should do?” I ask.
“All you Mexicans here in the US should just stay home one day,” I say, “No trabajar.”
Max laughs. “Can you imagine that?”
“The restaurant industry would collapse overnight,” I say.
“No one to mow your lawn,” Max adds.
“Or clean your toilet, or cook for your kids, or pick your fruit,” I say.
“Be a mess,”
“Si,” I reply, “A day without a Mexican. I think that’s the name of a movie.”
“I haven’t seen it.”
Now, I know immigration is a touchy subject. But let’s face it, it you’re a student of US history, you know immigration has ALWAYS been a touchy subject. America’s absorbed peoples of different colors and creeds since the first settlers landed at Jamestown. It’s never been easy. Blood has been shed in the name of Manifest Destiny and immigration’s history is filled with many dark moments. From Irish ditch diggers to Dominican bodega owners, from Chinese rail workers to Indian gas station attendants; we’ve viewed new arrivals with suspicion and contempt. Yet, over the long haul, they, and their cultures, their ways of thinking and their viewpoints, blend into the American consciousness. It what’s given America its vitality for over two hundred years. I wish everyone would remember they’re the sons and daughters of immigrants.
But sometimes there’s no talking to shitkickers.
“Hey Max,” I say, “Do you remember when the Mexican Army came to help us out during Hurricane Katrina?”
“Si, I remember,” Max says. He should. It was the first time Mexican troops had set foot on US soil since the Mexican-American War back in the 1840’s.
“Can you imagine the looks on those Minutemen guy’s faces when they saw the Mexican Army crossing the border?”
Max laughs, “I wish I could have been there,” he says.
Suddenly I have a vision of the Mexican/Texas border. Two Minutemen vigilantes, Earl and Dwayne, are sitting in their pickup truck, scanning the border with night vision goggles.
Their problem is that it’s daytime.
“Earl,” Dwayne says, smoothing down his mullet haircut, “Do ya think we’re gonna catch us some beaners today?”
Earl spits a wad of tobacco juice out the window. “Can’t rightly say Dwayne. Those beaners are a sneaky lot.”
“What if they put up a fight?”
“Well, I got a surprise for them,” Earl says, pulling his shirt up to reveal a silver plated revolver.
“Hee hee,” Dwayne giggles, “Those brownies are gonna shit their pants when the see that hogleg.”
“That’s the idea,” Earl says confidently.
Suddenly the loud noise of diesel engines fills the air.
“Hey Earl,” Dwayne whispers, “Someone’s comin!”
“Must be them coyote dudes smuggling in Mexicanos,” Earl replies, lovingly fingering his gun.
“Let’s get em!” Dwayne cries.
Dwayne and Earl block the road with their truck. Getting out they lean against the cab, arms folded, trying to muster up their best High Plains Drifter faces.
A column of Mexican army trucks, loaded with supplies, draws to a halt. A slim elegant officer gets out of the lead truck and goes over to parley with the Minutemen.
“Hello gentleman,” the officer says in perfect English, “Is there a problem?”
“Yeah there’s a problem El Presidente,” Earl says, “We’re not letting you beaners into the good ol’ US of A.”
“But we are here at the request of your government,” the officer says, “Bringing relief supplies for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.”
“Bullshit,” Dwayne says, “You’re just illegals dressed up like soldiers. The minute you get in here you’re gonna take our jobs.”
The officer breathes a heavy sigh. “I assure you sir, that is not the case.”
“Well beaner,” Earl grins, “You ain’t getting through.”
“Sir, I have my orders,” the officer protests.
“Tough shit wetback,” Dwayne giggles.
“Yeah tough mierda muchacho,” Earl says, showing the officer his gun, “Now turn around and go home to your puebla.”
The officer shakes his head. “I was afraid of this,” he mutters.
Earl spits a wad of tobacco juice at the officer’s foot.
“Un momento por favor,” the officer says.
Earl and Dwayne watch the officer walk away.
“Damn Earl, you looked like Clint Eastwood just then.” Dwayne says.
“I showed that beaner a thing or two didn’t I?”
The Mexican officer returns – on top of a tank.
“Gentleman,” he asks politely, “I really must ask that you move.”
“Funny beaners,” Dwayne says, “Where did they get a tank?”
“Probably stole it.” Earl says.
“Please move your truck gentleman.”
“No can do muchacho,” Earl says.
The officer throws back the bolt on the turret’s 50 cal machine gun.
“I must insist,” the officer says.
Earl spits out another wad of tobacco.
The officer replies by scything Earl’s truck with a fusillade of bullets.
“Holy fucking shit!” Earl screams, ducking for cover.
“They’ve gone loco Earl!” Dwayne yelps.
The tank slews its main gun towards Earl’s pickup. There’s a metallic clang as a round is slammed into the breach.
“Fuego!” the officer cries.
The cannon roars and Earl’s truck is blasted off the road, cartwheeling in a shower of smoke and flame.
“My truck!” Earl sobs, “My tru….GULP!”
The Mexican tank starts bopping up and down on it’s treads like a tricked out El Camino in East LA – its horn bugling “La Cucaracha.”
The Mexican officer flips Earl the bird.
“Viva Mexico pendejo!” he yells.
Earl and Dwayne watch helplessly as the Mexican column rumbles past.
“I shit myself,” Dwayne whines.
But Earl can’t reply. He’s too busy throwing up. He swallowed his chew.
The Mexican officer watches as the Minutemen fade into the distance. Turning to the tank driver he says, “Stupid gringos.”
“Si” the driver says happily.
“God that felt good,” the officer says.
“Can we stop at the Wal-Mart in Brownsville General?” the driver asks.
“Why?” the general asks.
“Those culeros locked my up sister in the store at night.”
“Please General, can I shell the Wal-Mart?”
The General looks out upon the Texas plains. All this was once his country.
“No Pablo, we’re on a mission of mercy,” he sighs.
That’s too bad,” the driver says.
Si,” the general replies with a thin smile, “But it’s nice to dream isn’t it?”
Si Commandante, si.”
The Mexican column disappears. Earl and Dwayne have to walk home. Gee, I hope they can find water. …….
Max laughs at my imaginary tale.
“Well amigo, we don’t need tanks.” he says.
“It might help,” I say.
“No,” Max says, “We’re taking back what you stole – piece by piece.”
I laugh. It’s true. They are taking it back. And you know what? Good.
The Mexicans are a proud people – a people with a history even older than our own. They’re not our personal pool of cheap wage slaves.
I smile to myself. With all the illegal Mexicans in the United States I’ll bet President Polk’s turning over in his grave. And if that’s not Karma my friends, then I don’t know what is.
Tenés razón, Camarero. Tenés razón.
JAJAJAJA! you betcha! even in NY, one of our classmates that got in the bad side of everyone and ended up without anyone to translate for her, managed ok ALL week because she found lots of spanish speaking people… go figure
eh, typical New Yawk liberal tripe. The question is why are so many mexicans leaving their country? As a first generation american, I have no problems with legal immigration but please respect our laws, pay into the system and work hard. Of course, we treat these immigrants immensely better than they way Mexico treats illegal immigrants. If you’re going to call the US on the mat for bad treatment, please do the same to Mexico for their infinitely worse treatment of illegals.
I’ve seen Thirty five year old Peruvian ladies with 3 or 4 kids in basic combat training next to square jawed joes trying to get citizenship on the fast track and succeeding.
I really don’t understand how it got hip to be illegal. It seems clear enough to me that if I went to Iceland illegally and did some time and got deported I would have no one to blame but myself.
There is just no excuse for this post man, you look so damn stupid. Congrats on the book.
Sounds a lot like the play “Day of Absence” – Douglas Turner Ward, I think? Check it out.
I’ll learn Spanish when they learn freakin’ English.
Normally, I’m with you. I totally am. America was built on immigration…but come on. I have spent way too much time either standing at the customer service counter of a chain like Walmart, trying to communicate via hand signals with someone who works there who speaks very little English (I live in the southern states). There has been a few times where I’ve had to ask to speak to someone else when I’ve called customer service because I can’t understand a word they’re saying.
I do know some Spanish. Enough to have a very very simple conversation…but my deal is if you move to a country, you should at least try to learn the basic language that is spoken by everyone…which would be English. If I moved to Mexico you can bet your ass they would all expect me to learn Spanish.
And don’t come in illegally. That’s a whole different tangent…
to the above commenter this is because your corporations are too cheap to hire someone qualified for the job and pay them. blame them not people trying to make a living.
One thing I usually love about your writing is that you try to empathize with others, recognize that no one can be cut down to a stereotype. So what’s the the redneck = dumbass = border patrol = mullet = certain style of speech = loves guns and violence thing? Please recognize that stereotyping Red-Staters is still intolerance, and that by lumping these qualities together you are perpetuating that stereotype.
My brother-in-law just moved from the South to my very liberal area of the county, and just because of his accent, many make judgmental false assumptions about his political leanings and supposed ignorance and bigotry. I see them acting visibly uncomfortable around him. These folks can be hateful dumbasses themselves; they just happen to be in an area where liberalism is the prevailing political persuasion, so their hate and judgment is directed at Red-Staters (aka a group they feel threatened by but don’t take the time to understand. Sound familiar?) I’m not saying this is you, Waiter, but please keep in mind that intolerance goes more than one way.
But in solidarity with the spirit of your posting:
“Why don’t you kick yourself out? You’re an immigrant too!” – The White Stripes
…how about when my car has been hit not once but twice, both times by illegals (they were both at fault) who did not speak English, who had no driver’s license, and of course NO INSURANCE.
I had uninsured motorist but I was still out my deductible ($400 a pop)
Do I sympathize with illegal anyone? No.
I can pronounce Spanish just fine.
But I kept dicking around in Spanish class, so I failed. Damn pretty girls.
They cross with much less noble intentions.
Yes my grandparents were immigrants, but they applied for citizenship legally, got legal jobs, and spoke English at those jobs.
I sympathize for the illigal immigrants, I really do, but they are braking laws and xircumventing laws meant to protect us and them. They are hired illigally by employers who pay them illigally below the living wage, and illigally don’t cover them under workmans comp so every hospital visit is a risk of deportation, plus a burden on tax payers. And I’m sorry but if no one wants their jobs, why do I pay unemployment taxes?
How do you know if someone is from the U.S.?
They only speak one language.
So stereotyping Mexicans and immigrants is bad but stereotyping Texans is good clean fun?
As a texan I can tell you that there are some Duane and earl Types, but that there are far more, well educated hard working law abiding folks who do not fear immigrants or hate mexicans but are tired and quite justifiably scared of the illegals crossing their private lands. They cut down fences allowing valuable livestock to escape, they kill that same livestock, they strew trash and human waste into the stock ponds and streams poisoning the land and the livestock. Yes many of these immigrants are poor people willing to work hard and simply want to make a life for themselves, however they can ruin a life it took a family multiple generations to build.
“‘Please General, can I shell the Wal-Mart?'”
Funniest thing I’ve read all day.
Wow. I really love your blog. And will continue to love it, but wow.
So it is not ok to assume all illegal immigrants are “lazy, job stealing, thieves, etc..” but it is perfectly acceptable to act like every Texan is some slack jawed idiot looking to “shoot’m sum wetbacks”?
That is sad and wrong. I think you need to observe a little tolerance that you preach for the immigrants for your fellow occupants of the same soil.
I have friends in New York and I hate it when people say all NYC people are assholes with no regard for others. But I dunno guess stereotypes win huh?
I guess you never can tell anymore if people really do care about people as fellow humans or if they just see them as a label under their race or region.
My great-grandparents crossed illegally into the United States, worked hard as a farmer and a factory worker, had twelve kids, and lived in a house they built themselves. Now nearly all of their grandkids went to college, have degrees, vote, pay their taxes, and are productive members of society. So were they.
The only difference between them and this generation of illegals? They snuck in through Canada to escape poverty in Poland. And even if they decided to come into America legally, it would of been a hell of a lot easier than it is to come into America legally today. They didn’t really ask you to take a test, present proof of employment, and ask that you speak English on Ellis Island.
Unless you’re a native american, you’re an immigrant. And I bet the ancestors of half of the ignorant fucks that want to “send the wetbacks back to Mexico” made it here illegally. Why didn’t we send your asses back during the potato blight, motherfuckers?
Why? ‘Cause that ‘aint American, that’s why.
I used to be firmly against illegal immigration; however, I’m not entirely sure where I stand anymore. You see, it was a lot easier to pass judgement when I faced the problem from a distance. My views changed when I got my first job at a Mexican owned Italian restaurant. Many of the kitchen workers were illegal, but almost all of them were good, hard-working people. We mostly communicated through hand gestures or broken phrases (High school Spanish failed miserably for me.), but I can’t forget how kind they were to me. I understand that some of the people who enter our country illegally cause problems, but it isn’t exactly easy to enter legally. I guess what I mean to say is that you shouldn’t judge a person unless you have stood in their shoes.
I’m half Belizean. I am a Texan. Very few Texas border patrol have that ass backwards view on illegal immigrants. We respect them. Mexican-Americans are our backbone, and we know it. It’s easy to be from NYC and think that every cracker from Texas is a racist, but we’re not. I take this as tongue and cheek, because any other way of taking it is offensive.