First let me start with the Mexicans at Home Depot. Quick clarification; not all people of Latino descent are Mexican. But since most white educated Caucasians think all Hispanics at Home Depot are Mexican, I will just call them Mexican as well to not confuse too many of you.
The first time I decided to partake of this true open labor market was back when I was making a move from an apartment in the San Gabriel Valley to a small home. I was not the biggest fan of moving and loathed the idea of having to carry heavy stuff. Not that it was beneath me, I just didn’t want to do it, and at this time in my life I was not in the financial position to hire a moving company (the $80 to rent a U-haul was already hurting my pocketbook). I had heard about people using Mexicans from Home Depot's parking lot for certain jobs. Now I'm not going to lie, I had never done this and was a bit scared, but I figured this was as good a time as ever to try it. I told my then girlfriend, acting as if I did this all the time, that I was going to the Home Depot to get a couple of Mexicans to help with the move. Her reaction was expected given the fact that she had come from a prominent white family from a small town in the south. She did claim to have experience with minorities (she loved telling everybody how there were a ton of black people that went to her high school and college), but this was way beyond how progressive she claimed to be. Her argument was initially disguised under the law - "you know it’s illegal to hire Mexicans for work". The real issue, although I was Mexican, was that she was not comfortable with this type of Mexican being so close to us - in my house, grabbing our things, knowing where we live, knowing what we had, riding in the car, etc. I am not taking the moral high road. The same concerns crossed my mind and probably would have been worse if it was another ethnicity we were dealing with, but these were my people. It was either I try it or I have to do the work myself and remember I’m lazy (I’m Mexican) so I decided to ignore the concerns and drive to Home Depot.
I had heard about how to do it, I had seen it on T.V., I even tried to research how to do it on the Internet - this couldn't be that hard. I showed up at Home Depot in the City of Industry and I saw a ton of Mexicans, some in the store, some in their cars, and then the ones I was looking for at the back end of the parking lot. An interesting crowd; hanging around in groups, eating tacos, drinking a beer or two. Once they figured out that I was looking for them, it turned a bit crazy. They started chasing me, whistling, waving – maybe my girlfriend was right. This was intimidating (I'm glad I came alone, my girlfriend would have freaked), but finally I rolled down the window and yelled "necesito dos personas para ayudarme con una mudanza!" (I need two guys for help with a move!) Sure enough before I knew it three guys jumped into the back of my car, they argued for a few seconds and eliminated the third guy. I quickly took off hoping not to get arrested (I mean this was illegal).
On the drive back to the apartment we introduced each other and negotiated the going rate. Even though I ‘m white, I am Mexican so this conversation was in Spanish (or Mexican as some people call it here). I unfortunately do not remember the specifics of these gentlemen's backgrounds, but after doing this several times, the stories I hear are eerily similar. They are mostly from southern states in Mexico, have been in the U.S. several years, and spend every single day feverously looking for work. At the end of each week they take what they need from their earnings to survive (rent, food and the more than occasional Bud Lite Tall Boy Two Pack from the AM.PM) and send the rest home to family members in Mexico that they have not seen in years. I asked them what they charge for the work. There answer was and always is, "No importa, lo que guste." (It doesn't matter whatever you feel is fair). I always try to pay them double what they normally make. My dad is also a white Mexican that actually still lives in Mexico because he was more than successful there and has always paid our housekeepers almost double what they would make somewhere else. Its funny how we have had two people work at our home in Mexico for over 20 years and they have never stolen from us and always go out of there way to go the extra mile in terms of their work. Hmmm, interesting - not all Mexican maids steal. So having learned from my father, I decided to offer these guys $50 bucks each for 2 hours of work plus a couple of beers (it was hot that day and I don't like drinking alone).
I won't get into the details of the result of their work; all I will say is that in less than 2 hours we were all drinking beers and all my stuff was in my new home. Due to that performance, my girlfriend at the time was always the first to suggest getting the Mexicans at Home Depot to handle any jobs that came up. I'm glad that this experience not only opened my eyes to what these guys were all about, but also expanded her eyes to see that not all Mexicans are lazy and just like to take siestas. I think she had gained some of that stereotype from my behavior - I love siestas.
Since then, I have become a huge advocate of the labor resource available at Home Depot. It truly is the only open labor market in the U.S. There are no outside influences, no government regulation, no unions, and no minimum wages; just supply and demand of manual labor. There are days that these guys will ask for more and days that they’ll do the work for less, just depending on the demand - A true Republican’s dream. I don’t know much about politics, but I wonder why then a big portion of the Republican Party is fighting to build the wall. On the other hand, I come in and mess it all up because I always pay more than market rate. I guess that’s the democrat in me. Who knows what I am? – maybe as this blog progresses, you all might be able to help me with that. Hell, I might even vote this year.
Although this labor pool is a great resource; I always come across shock when I mention it to people for the first time. It happened with my current girlfriend, the Greek Goddess, who initially was a bit skeptical, but has come to love the Mexicans at Home Depot. She comes with me to get them and often partakes in the ceremonious after work beer with us. I think the fact that her mother was born in another country has given her a more open perspective on life. Although, she really can't sit on a pedestal either; she is afraid to get on public transportation, probably thinks I'm lazy (I don't think its because I'm Mexican though, I think its the fact she's lived with me for over 3 years) and in general doesn't like Asian drivers except for my friend Oliver (but he's a white Asian so that doesn't count).
So if you need help on figuring out how to get Mexicans at Home Depot, I am somewhat of an expert. I have gotten Mexicans at Home Depot in San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and the Bay Area for all of my moves. Hopefully, I won't need them for another move as I hope to stay in the Bay for the rest of my life, but I will continue to use them for any other work that I am not good at or that I don't want to do.
My initial idea for MexicansatHomeDepot.com was to start an online labor marketplace where people could post projects, then I would have the Mexicans at Home Depot bid on them and the lowest bidder would get the job. I figured I would get into a bit of trouble with the INS and other local, state, and federal authorities so I decided on the blog instead. Oh well.
First off, I do not want you to think that I am a person of complete acceptance and understanding of all ethnicities. This blog is not intended as a platform for me to tell everybody that they are socially and ethnically inept. Quite the contrary, I have learned a lot through friendships and experiences, and am looking to learn more about myself and others. I have been extremely comfortable with Hispanics because I grew up in a community where more than 80% of the population was Hispanic. Before leaving the El Paso/Juarez area, I was prejudice towards other ethnicities and sexual orientations (blacks, Asians, gays, Indians, etc). Luckily by moving away from that area, I understood what it really was like to be a minority because for the first time I was one. I have since met all different types of people and have made great friends that are helping me in eliminating my current prejudices.
I’m getting tired - this is the most of written since college and the basketball games are about to start.
I have one more random thought that I still have not been able to answer myself: I love the U.S. and everything that it has offered me. I went to school here, I work here, and I am an actual American citizen. Why is it then that every time that Mexico plays the U.S. in soccer, I find myself in the cheap seats hanging out with all the Mexicans from Home Depot waving the Mexican flag and drinking the tallboys that we snuck into the stadium?
We’ll talk next week….. Your gracious host,
The White Mexican