Saturday, June 23, 2012
Madre, can you spare a peso?*
Manny's worked at the park since before I got here. How Omar came on the scene, I'm not really sure. In the five years since I've been here, we've gone through a string of workers. Manny's dad worked here for years until he got pissed off and walked off the job. We had some kind of hot gangsta dude for a a very brief time. He took to lazing around rather quickly and was pretty useless. One guy's work schedule kept getting interrupted with stints in drug/alcohol rehab. Just before the gangsta dude we had Daniel and Martin but Martin got scared off when he accidentally tripped the neighbor's alarm. Daniel is delivering bottled water which is a pretty good job.
Suddenly last summer Omar showed up.
Poor Omar! He has got to be one of the shyest people I've ever met. Muy timido! He would ride around in the truck with Manny looking like a scared rabbit. Manny would yell "shut up Omar!" in english (callete! in espanol) and Omar would giggle. We discovered that Omar was married to a woman who had something like four kids from a previous relationship and she and Omar added three more to the bunch. Not too long after Omar started working at the park he and his wife split up and he moved in with Manny.
One day Omar came to my porch alone and sat in one of my camp chairs. I was at the computer and could see him through the window. I went outside and Omar rattled off a memorized script which I could barely understand except for two words "pagar" and "sabado." I've been hit up for loans many times so I figured that's what he wanted. "Cuanto?" I asked. "Dos cientos." I went inside and scrounged up 200 pesos and gave it to him. Again he repeated the script - he'll pay me on sabado (which is payday). Saturday rolled around and there was Omar with my 200 pesos.
We developed a routine. Mid week he would come over and sit in a camp chair. I'd go outside. That's when I would see his wife waiting for him on the side of the road. She'd come to Omar asking for money for the kids; he'd come to me asking for a loan. One time he only wanted 100 pesos. So after that I'd go outside and hold up one finger on one hand and two fingers on the other. One or two? Mostly it was two. I'd give him his money and every Saturday he'd pay me back. Manny had taught Omar that if you want to be helped by the americanos, you have got to pay them back or they will cut you off.
Now that I'm living outside the park, I haven't seen much of Omar and Manny. However the other morning they came by to hit up Banco Madre. Manny put the 5-gallon water bottle (garrafon) on the dispenser for me then Omar rattled off his script. Manny said he needed money too. I feigned shock. Tu tambien Manuel? Si, madre, si. So I went and got two 200 peso notes and handed them to the boys. Omar giggled the whole time.
I've seen a lot of changes in Manny over the past few years. He's grown into a responsible man who's looking for a good Christian woman. From what I understand, Omar tries as much as he can to help out his wife and kids and once a week goes to her place and spends the night there. (Hopefully just visiting and not making more babies!)
Manny and Omar - I couldn't have asked for nicer adopted sons.
*this is for Bill S.