Where Are We Going?
"I'll tell you when we get there"
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
Someone comes to your door. He looks nice, seems affable enough. Kinda stiff but you figure, maybe he is just one of the shy ones. People had said good things about him, and you are hopeful he will be good for you and you will share their opinion.
Published on LatinoLA: September 26, 2012
After a bit of conversation, which is kinda dry and seems a little worn, he says, "Get ready! I am taking you somewhere." There is a glint in his eyes that you had not noticed before and you think to yourself, "Maybe he is loosening up and then I will see what the others see in him." So, you ask, "Where are we going?"
The stiffness reappears. His movements seem smooth, but almost practiced, as if he has done this before. "Well, that is a very, very good question. I am glad to know you are paying attention. But, see, I cannot tell you now. You just have to trust me and come along with me for the ride." His smile is a little thin-lipped, as if he wants to say more, but does not know how to do it, what to say. So he smiles, having nothing to say.
Now the smile looks a bit stiff, like the smile a kindergardener would draw with a flesh colored crayon. No rich, deep color, no depth, no heart in that smile. Now you begin to back off, but want to give the guy a chance.
"Okay, so what do I pack? Am I going to need clothes for the tropics? Or stuff for cool weather? Or maybe some of both, just in case?" My questions draw a laugh. "Hahahahaha. Honey, you think too much about everything. Why are you trying to pin me down? Can't you just 'go with the flow?'" Well, I'm thinking to myself, what exactly is going on here? Is this a prank somebody is playing on me? But why would somebody have it out for me?
I mean, I'm Latina, I work hard, my parents came to this country, newly married and legally. But I feel uneasy. I did well in school and all my instincts tell me "Run! You have no info from this guy." He is making movidas, but he does not even know you.
"So," I ask, how much cash should I have and do I need my credit card? I mean, I am going to want to eat and get around, maybe meet some friends. Whaddaya think? A couple of hundred? More? Less?" He laughs again. "Why don't you just not worry your pretty little head about details. I'll tell you after we get there. You don't need to get into all this! Why don't you just ease up!? My friends who are paying me for this trip are very generous. There's gonna be more than enough for everybody after we get there."
Wow -- I still cannot shake off the feeling of fear and anxiety. For me to put my life into this guy's hands, with very little information, that goes against everything my Papi and [i]Mami taught me. I mean, I know it's bad to walk down dark alleys at night, alone. I know it's dangerous to be on the freeway at three in the morning when the bars let out and I am a woman alone in my car. And I can't get a new cell phone because my old one broke. And I get off work at the urgent care super late. I mean, those things are all so clear cut.
But this, this is just on the edge. I know looks can deceive -- sometimes people who look scarey really are cool. But isn't the opposite possible? That a good looking, handsome, even, guy can have bad intentions? Some friends had told me he was great in business, came from a rich family, made more money on his own. His thing was to buy businesses that had been around a long time, get a bunch of loans on the businesses, suck all the money out and the place would go broke.
And that was good? I would ask. What about the poor employees who had been there for decades and had their retirement tied up in that factory? What about the people who were just starting out, depending on their job there to make their payments on the little house they bought, the one with the nursery for the new baby?
What about them? My friends just said, "Hey, that's the way it goes. You know, the rich get richer and the poor --well, they gotta scramble. There's always unemployment."
Wow, my mind was racing. "But," I asked, breaking up the conversation about how everybody was going to cash in, "didn't I hear that guy say that 47% of the people in this country were moochers and losers? And how could he say that he liked to fire people?"
I thought of one of my sisters, who was in management. And every time they downsized, first she went into work with a rock in the pit of her stomach. Then, when her supervisors told her she made the cut and still had a job, but gave her the names of the people she would have to fire the next day, she would drive home, with an ache in her chest. And when she would finally pull in to her little condo garage, she would let herself cry. Cry for what she had to do. Cry because she knew some of the people that were being cut were barely hanging on. Cry because those people were not moochers. They worked hard, but her bosses said, "Somebody has to go."
And something else struck her as very odd. She knew her own bank account was flimsy, always on the edge of being overdrawn. But she had cut off her paper, she made her own coffee in the morning and joined the coffee club at work, she drank tap water now, no more bottled water. And she bought generic stuff at the store, from prescriptions to frozen vegetables. No more name brands for her. Forget the cleaners, she tried to only buy hand or machine wash clothes, when she needed them. And turned off the lights when she left any room.
Yeah, then she remembered more clearly, this guy had so much money he had to sock some of it away someplace far. What did they say, the "Cayman Islands" and Switzerland. She used to read novels, and some of them were mysteries. That book she read, "The Firm", by John Grisham, there was info in there about using what they called "offshore accounts" to hide money and not pay taxes. But only the super rich had access to so-called secret accounts like that. She laughed as she realized what they would do if she tried to deposit $10 a month in an account like that. The men would probably pee in their $3,000 suits.
Now, I was scared. And now I was going to pee because I was so scared of the power this man had and his phoney baloney "I'm just like you" act. Two days ago he had talked about his Abuelito who went to Mexico, because Utah would not let him have the five or six wives he wanted. There in Utah, it was a crime. In Mexico, he could do whatever he wanted. And now this guy here, his grandson, talked b.s. about how his father came back, and the father needed government support. But what he did not say was that it was important to give help to others, just like his father had been given a hand when he had needed it. He ignored those who needed help NOW.
Because in his mind, they DID NOT MATTER. Only his rich buddies mattered. Only people who could help him mattered. And it dawned on me, what he wants from me is my vote. And he is hitting everybody up, cozying up to the young and old, the Latinos, especially. He knew he was in big trouble with the Latinos. He had even talked about building a big ol' wall across the South part of the United States. To keep the Latinos out. But now he wanted the Latinos who were documented to vote for him, even though they might have undocumented and unwanted Latino family or friends. And now he was stuck. Because his big ol' bocota got him into trouble, talking about "illegal aliens" behind their backs.
And he had just come from a huge convention in Tampa, Florida. One where everybody's beds were made by ("Can I see your papers?") Latinos, where the food was prepared, served and the dishes picked up and cleaned by ("Can I see your papers?"). Latinos, where room service was carried on the strong arms of the ("Can I see your papers?") Latinos. I wondered how many Latinos there got a "Thank you", or a look directly in his or her eyes by the people they served, quietly and efficiently.
NO! It was so clear to me what this guy was up to and what he would do if I put my trust in him. My life would be so much more difficult. I would hear about more friends losing their houses and moving to other states to start over, in their late 50's.
Resolutely I said, "Largate de aqui! You might try to pull that [i]movida on others, but not me. And not [i]Mi Gente, not [i]mi familia, not [i]mis amigas e amigos. Get the hell away from me. You are a liar and should be ashamed of yourself. And tell that liar sell-out Rubio he should have checked his own birth certificate before he become a "nino heroe!" You are a two-faced liar. And, by the way, don't use the "fake bake" tan trick again when you address Latinos. Did you really think we would fall for that?
Do not ever disrespect Mi Gente again."
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer:
Writer, Political Analyst and Los Angeles Attorney