Well, John Sabotta likes to hammer away at me for my "hate," which is to some extent a valid criticism — though I maintain that my hate is well placed, when properly understood.
But it got me to wondering what I love the most in this here "democracy;" so here it is, by way of an experience last night that repeats itself in myriad ways, often.
How many remember this little incident? I do, because the Wendy’s in question, on the corner of Alma & Monterey Road, is a couple of miles from where I used to live in downtown San Jose, before I moved to the ‘burbs’ in ’99. I like Wendy’s, so I used to go there at least every couple of weeks, and now that I’m back in downtown, I go there again from time-to-time.
Last night was interesting. Here in San Jose, it’s not uncommon at all in a fast food joint for the entire crew to be Mexican immigrants and last night was no exception. I have my issues sometimes with what I see as poor professionalism and attention to detail, but not on this night. These kids were hoppin’. It was busy, but they dispatched the five or six cars in front of me in record time, and when I got to the window, the young guy was competently taking an order in his broken English while assembling my order, ringing me up, and giving me change. Just splendid.
I love immigrants of every sort and color, and I understand why some of them come here. But I also understand that it is the only place for someone to come who had the misfortune to be born in some dirt-scratching shit-can of a pest hole, and who wants to take a shot at something better. But, often, not before risking life and freedom to get here.
My dad and his family came over on a ship from Germany in 1952. Mom, dad, and six kids. I’m astounded when I consider the enormity of it.
I really enjoy engaging immigrants in conversation when I get the chance: gardeners, pool guys, janitors, service workers, construction workers…you name it. It makes me think, for a brief moment, that perhaps there’s still some hope for this culture. The republicans want to keep ’em out, and the democrats want to turn them into their lifelong dependents. Some come in order to be dependents, and some will take that "easier road" in spite of earlier good intentions. But some will, in a mater of years, produce orders of magnitude more values than the average native produces in a lifetime. In sort, the spirit of America, at root, has always been about coming here from somewhere else and doing something great with your life. And because that’s a uniquely individual aspiration, it remains virtually the only individualist facet of this culture.
I ordered a burger and a chili, and being very silly, asked if there was any fingers in it. They all laughed. Probably heard it a million times, but they laughed; and I winked and laughed with them.