Monday, August 31, 2009

Mind Numbing

About one year ago I moved back to San Jose. I had gotten a call about a job prospect the night before, and drove up that following morning. The “interview” went well. “Do you speak English” yes. Ok you’re hired.

It was a warehouse position, and there were a total of four of us hired. A guy my age Just in from Guadalajara, A man in his 40’s from Mexico City, a 30 year old drunkard from god knows what part of Mexico, and a 30 something Ex -Con USC from San Jose.

The job was to last two weeks. It consisted of packing 40 pound SAN servers into cardboard boxes and then loading the boxes into stacks (2 wide x 8 high) on pallets, wrapping and tying the pallets and loading them into trucks. One person, one pallet. This was the work, and it was done from 8am to 6pm. Non stop, except for the 30 minutes we got for lunch.

While we worked, the four of them chatted, the older gentleman from Mexico City talked about his days as a carpet cleaner in Sunnyvale, while the guy from Guadalajara told us how he was a taxi driver back “home” but gas prices were killing his work. They asked about me. I was vague and rude. “Where are you from?” I’m from San Jose. “Why is your English so good?” I’ve been here a long time. “What do you do?” I work and you should too.

At first I would try to keep my mind busy. I spent my time thinking about derivatives, physic problems from the past or trying to look at the manufacturing process on the floor and see what I could improve. I even attempted to read my old text books at lunch time.

Yet I grew angry. At them. For coming here. For making the choice to cross, while I had no choice. At the ex-con. For taking his birthright for granted. At me. For slowly letting go. Towards the end of the two weeks, I was resigned. If this was what I was going to do, be a warehouse day laborer, a mojado, a wetback. Then so be it. No more shaving. No more worrying about how I looked. No more thinking. Just work. Keep your head down. and take it.

But it’s hard.

It’s hard because I am not a mojado. Because I did not make that choice. Yet I don’t feel American. Because I am only partially recognized by the country I love. So what am I?

this brings us to my next post.

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