It’s a typical day in Costa Mesa for Lino Perez. He wakes up at 5 am, puts water to boil, and get’s ready for a hopeful day. As he fixes himself, he puts on his boots, jacket, and Dickies pants, and makes a prayer. With fervor, and faith, he prays and asks for luck to find a job; the water is ready, coffee is made, and off he goes.

His destination, 7eleven! As he walks, he thinks about the possibilities of obtaining a day of jale (Work). He knows the possibilities are limited, but like the Saying goes in Spanish, “La esperanza nunca muere,” (hope never dies)….

He arrives after ten minutes of walking, and happily he greets all his Paisanos, and hermanos Jornaleros. “Que onda Lino?” a friend asks. “Aqui nomas echandole ganas, buscando el pan de cada dia,” replies Lino.  “Hey Lino, what’s up,” asks his friend. “Just here like always, looking to earn my piece of bread,” replies Lino. Typical daily salutations, it’s an everyday thing. Los Jornaleros, depend and base their lives on work, and keep high hopes even when they feel cornered against the ropes.

As he gets acquainted, you see his face lighten up with hope as trucks pass by. “Compa, cuantos quiere?” Hey Bro, How many helpers do you need,” asks Lino with high aspirations. Lino said that even though he is a very shy person, when it comes to surviving, screw being bashful.  The response of the truck driver seems for ever to come but it’s only a split second and says,” No compa hora no ay jale, disculpa.” ” Sorry,” the man says,”But today I don’t have a job for you.”  “Thanks,” replies Lino.

This is life, for some it may seem like a win-lose deal, but it is a substantial part of life for a day laborer. Not only are they undocumented which means they are unwelcome by a certain entity, but also, they must go above and beyond for a job. Lino commented that he does not understand why certain individuals argue against his posting at the 7eleven; they say were lazy, but here we are looking for a job, and then the COPS come saying it’s illegal to loiter. So why do they call him lazy in the first place, if when he searches for a job it’s illegal? El Jornalero does not come to the states to be a burden on society, on the contrary, he comes to provide.

After 9am, the Jornalero typically loses hope of the day and looks forward for a better tomorrow. Sometimes, some of them lose hope, and rather go back to their native country, but it’s even worse. They realize that it’s not easy to cross again, they risk their lives either by dying in the desert, or being kidnapped, and slaughtered for their organs. “El Gobierno Mexicano no nos quiere, nos empuja fuera de la patria, Y el gobierno Americano goza nuestra labor, por que ahorran mas dinero,” says Lino. ” The Mexican government, doesn’t care about us, it pushes us away from our land, whereas, the American government enjoy our cheap inexpensive labor,” says Lino. The Mexican government neglects its people and focuses on the “War on Drugs,” which by the way is not making the country any safer. Some might argue that due to the violence in Mexico more people rather immigrate to the states than live in constant fear.

Nevertheless, as I walked home, I thought to myself, “And I thought I had it hard!” These individuals all have their needs. Some work for themselves to prosper, others work to sustain their families. Every year it gets more difficult, but hope never dies. They keep on trying and push forward, regardless of the opposition. ‘Til now, that’s it, and here’s a verse from Don Salgado, which Lino Perez loves:

” Yo digo lo pienso, yo digo lo que sufro, yo digo lo que siento mis penas las acuso. Yo soy un hombre pobre que no tiene dinero, no se poner mi nombre, vivo de Jornalero

” I say what I’m thinking, I claim my sufferings, I say what I feel, I accuse my hardships. I’m a poor individual that doesn’t have any money, I can’t spell my name, I live as a Day Laborer.





About ocbarrios

Professor for Cal State Fullerton's Barrio Studies class for Fall 2011 semester

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