Monday, March 1, 2010

“It was better before...”

Shift #25

SUNDAY, MARCH 7 -- From a gas station out near Hunters Point to 13th/Folsom -- $10.30

“I HAVE THREE JOBS at three gas stations -- seventy hours a week -- I work twenty hours at a gas station out by the airport, twenty hours at another one in Daly City, and thirty hours where you just picked me up... They don’t let you work forty hours or else you are full-time -- they want to keep you part-time...

“Monday is my triple shift -- I work three shifts back to back… I would be manager at this station but I don’t have a green card yet. Almost. One more step to go, one more form -- just some papers... It is hard to get a green card. I have been working on it for six years. They want to make sure my marriage is for real. They come to your house at three o’clock in the morning to check... No kidding!

“I grew up in Mexico. Michoacan. I came here when I was fourteen. Student visa... and then I just stayed. Three kids -- ten and four, and one who’s just six months -- I started early, Latino style... My wife grew up here. Her mother came from El Salvador in the Sixties, so my wife was born here. I’m twenty-six, my wife is seven years older than me... When I get a green card I can get a good job and spend more time with my kids -- tow truck driver or maybe security guard -- people tell me those are good money... This gas station pays eleven dollars an hour, but in San Mateo County they pay only minimum wage, like nine dollars an hour...

“I could not go back to Mexico -- too crazy now. The government wants to fight the drug cartels. I suppose that is a good thing, but lots of innocent people are getting killed. Before, when they let the drug cartels alone, no one was getting killed... It was better before… people were safer before…”


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