The American Dream
Posted October 10, 2005on:
Conchita is the proverbial immigrant who came to this country with no legal paper, one luggage and no knowledge of English. No, madam, she spoke no English and did not graduate from high school.
She learns English by watching TV.
She works for a while in a restaurant as a cook helper. She starts to clean houses on the side, as a second job (or a third, or a fourth). She soon realizes this is how she can make money and not by earning minimum wages at the restaurant! She gets a friend to print nice brochures for her : her name, her phone number and details on how well she will clean your house. She gets some phone calls. And some more and some more.
She is thirtyish, a round face, black hair and black eyes. She is short and sturdy. You can tell just by looking at her that she is what people call a Latina and that she has some Native American blood in her veins.
I met her when she left a leaflet under my door advertising her cleaning business. I know some people relish cleaning their own bathroom and find inner peace doing so, but unfortunately yours truly has not been blessed that way. Conchita comes to my house, cleans it and leaves it smelling like freshly squeezed lemon. Mmmmm….
Conchita is not the one doing the cleaning however. She has two employees, Maria and Pilar, doing it for her. These two barely speak English. They are, as Americans say, “Johnny come latelies”. I am amazed that cleaning my house contributes to the livelihood of not one, but three ladies!
Conchita is now an American citizen, speaks fluent English, has seven cars dedicated to her business and people working for her. Her main work is managing them and doing customer service. She is also in the office cleaning business now. And she has acquired expensive special equipment to enter the lucrative carpet cleaning business. I expect her to tell me soon she is also in the windows cleaning business. Or the interior painting business. Or the plumbing business. (You get the drift.).
Conchita is building herself her dream house back home. Her husband flies home every three months or so to check on the huge construction (it involves a multifamily complex) project. In the mean time, she has bought herself a house in the American ‘burbs. There are some trees surrounding it but no white picket fence and no wrap-around porch. Her two sons attend the county’s public schools. They will likely go to college. The first generation in the family that will do so.
Ten years from now, I expect to see Maria and Pilar, each with their own thriving (cleaning, or painting, or cooking or whatever) business, speaking a fluent English, and having become American citizens !
The American Dream is alive and well : Conchita makes me a believer.