Ojo: The "Cholo Word Of The Day" is simply for fun. This is not an academic exercise, therefore I do not spend much time checking for espelling or grammatical errors. Most of the words are not only used by "cholos," but by many people in S. Texas - and their usage can vary. c/s

Monday, July 26, 2004

Introduction To Anastacio

I wrote this the other day:

I introduce myself to Anastacio and talk to him for about five minutes. “Buenas noches,” I say. “Buenas TARDES,” he politely replies. It’s before 7 p.m. and even though the sun has gone down, I should know better.
Three nights a week Anastacio, his wife, and Anastacio’s older brother, who recently replaced Anastacio’s teenage son as the third team member, walk into our downtown Dallas loft offices to empty the trash cans, sweep the floors, and clean the bathrooms. I swivel around in my hundred dollar chair equipped with back support, make brief conversation and continue working on my laptop. But three times a week, after my brief small talk with Anastacio, I stop to think.

The story of Mexican immigrants taking on the unwanted jobs is not new by any means. Not even the story of the son of Mexican immigrants working on his laptop while Mexican immigrants clean his mess is new. What makes me stop and think, is that Anastacio, the man who wears a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap and has a mustache reminiscent of Emiliano Zapata could easily be my uncle, his wife my mother.

Look at me and you can tell I’m a Mexican-American. I have brown skin, possess Mestizo features, and wear Versace eye-glasses. Acculturated, but not assimilated.  Look at me and I bet you can’t tell that both of my parents work two jobs, not unlike Anastacio, who lays carpet and tile during the day.

I think about how fortunate I am to be in my position. I have a comfortable chair with a back rest and equity in the start-up internet company I work for. I live in Uptown Dallas and my balcony faces the American Airlines Center, where multi-millionaires spend countless hours. And for reasons that make me uncomfortable, I command respect from a man twice my age, who has been in this country as long as I’ve been alive, but has failed to leave his immigrant status. Anastacio never addresses me in the informal “Tu,” but rather uses the formal “Usted” when talking to me.

I say I introduced myself to Anastacio, because that’s exactly what I did. I’ve been talking to him since he started working at our offices three months ago, but I never stood up, extended my hand, and said, “My name is Carlos, mucho gusto.” This week, I did that.

Maybe next time I talk to Anastacio I’ll find out what state in Mexico he’s from and why his son stopped coming to help him, but for now an introduction must do.

Now, if I could only muster up the courage to “introduce” myself to my 20-year old cousin, Edgar, who is living somewhere in the DFW area illegally, I’d be in good shape.


Blogger seyd said...

Well, I don't think it was only an introduction to Anastacio but a very clever way to introduce yourself. You've got a perspective I almost thought missing from 1st generation Mexican-Americans in Dallas. Were you raised in Dallas? I really liked the way you write, keep up the good work, and I've linked you already.

3:51 AM

Blogger Lucy said...

Had to write, I am a Valley Girl (McAllen) living in Washington DC...but as you know, you can take the girl out of the Valley but...
so, yes, I have been there. The late evening when usually I am the only one left in the DC Mayor's office in my office with the view of the US Capitol...del rancho a la capital like my immigrant parents from Nuevo Leon like to tease me...usually stressed out over the crazy work I have to do and then Rosa or Martin walk in to take my trash and my soul melts. How can I complain about anything...my poor father who back home at 79 still cleans offices for a living, who worked 80 hour weeks in the oil fields for 35 years so I could live and be educated in the U.S....so someone else could through out my trash...I can at least remind them that I truly appreciate what they do and that I consider them just as human and as important as anyone else in that office.

5:35 PM


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