Department Stores and Garage Doors

As a little kid, I had nightmares of being abandoned by my family. I almost think I was born with “abandonment issues” because I had the same fears in real life — especially if I went shopping with my mom and “lost” her in the (to me) tall racks of clothing. I have a dim memory — mostly colors (pink and gray) — of screaming (my mom would say, “bloody murder”) because I couldn’t see my mom.

As it happened in real life, my family is all gone and I’m still here. The fear of abandonment has not (heh heh) abandoned me, either.

I think little kids — well, me, anyway — know they’re small and relatively helpless, very dependent on their adults. It really is the worst thing that can happen to be left behind by your grownups.

Back in the day when I live in the “hood” there were a lot of illegal immigrants living there. They worked hard — three jobs were not uncommon for those people who were struggling with all their might to get a better life for their children. They risked a lot crossing the border, most from Mexico but many from points even farther south.

Unless you’ve seen the way the very poor live in Mexico, it’s pretty easy to be indifferent, but I had seen it. Here’s a clue for anyone who hasn’t. When I replaced my garage door, the man who replaced it (it was one big heavy panel of wood) told me he would take it to Tijuana where someone would use it as a wall for their shack.

A couple of these families lived in houses a few doors down from me. Lucio and his mom managed to stay long enough for him to finish middle school, but the family next to them were not so lucky. They had two little girls who, every day, dressed to the nines, hair perfect, shiny shoes, marched to the local elementary school where they were caught in the bilingual bind. The early 90s were a confusing time for Mexican kids in American schools. Should they be taught to read in Spanish, English or both? Some afternoons I helped these little girls with their homework, and I saw that they might not learn to read because of the confusion in the educational system. Basic literacy should have nothing to do with politics. “Teach them Spanish, teach them English, who cares but be sure they can READ! It really doesn’t matter WHAT language. We all learn second languages anyway.”

One late afternoon I was hanging out at home, maybe grading papers — I don’t remember — and there was a child-high knock on my front door. It was the little girls. “No one is at our house,” said the older one.

“Come in and we can do your homework ’til your mom gets home.”

They came in and we worked on spelling and the alphabet and whatever they had in their book bags. Night fell and no one came for them. The little girls were worried and so was I. What had happened? Finally, the police came through the neighborhood knocking on doors, looking for the girls. The little girls’ mother and grandmother had been picked up by “La Migra” and were in a detention cell at INS. Their aunt was coming from Tijuana to get them.

I know the little girls felt they had been abandoned when what had really happened was that their grownups had been stolen.

When I hear the presidential candidates rant on about immigration and “building a wall” and all of this horrendous cant I’m disgusted. Most of the people I have known who crossed illegally were not drug dealers or perpetrators of violent crime or out to “take jobs from real Amuricans.” They just wanted a better life for their family. They didn’t want to raise their kids in shacks made of old garage doors.

Oh, here’s a diagram made by the Border Patrol showing how effective the “fence” is against smuggling. 🙂 The red lines are lines INTO the United States. The semi-diagonal line at the bottom is the fence.


10 thoughts on “Department Stores and Garage Doors

  1. Perfectly put. It hurts to imagine those little girls facing an empty house, wondering where their Mama and Abuela were. I am glad you could be there, even as I am sad this sort of indifference to family suffering occurs. I will now picture Tijuana as a city of garage doors cobbled together against the poverty and struggle of life lived on the edge of abandonment.

    • 😦 At first they were not worried. It wasn’t unusual that their mom and abuela weren’t home, but they usually showed up within an hour of the girls getting out of school. They put such a brave face on the fear I know they were feeling.

  2. This is sad, Martha. What is sadder is that the people (Donald Trump–I mean you!) who do all the talking really have no idea what they are talking about. How would he know what types of people cross the border? Amazing.

    • I think he knows. He hires them. He’s pandering to racism and fear and he probably doesn’t regard even the guys his contractors hire as human beings. You know, I’m no longer upset about The Donald. I’m upset at all the people who believe in him and support him and think he’s a great leader. If it weren’t for them, The Donald would have been gone long ago. To me that’s sad.

  3. This truly is a sad story about illegals. Those poor kids. I bet you think about them often.

    And I must agree with you about Trump. I am so fearful that he will be elected. People have no idea what they are supporting and believing in. He has stoked the fire in folks that are racists, bigots, and the greedy. Reminds me of how Hitler came to power. Prey on a country that has become disenchanted and weakened and there you have a ripe ground for a power hungry ego maniac.

    • I agree with you completely. Most of all, I’m disenchanted with the people who follow him. I’m saddened by their ignorance of history. I also really dislike “Make America Great Again.” It IS great. I LIVE here and every day I experience some great American thing. The people that buy into that whole thing are (despite what they think) not truly patriotic. They’re whiners.

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