As always I showed up late. Juan knew I was going too. I get a text, “Hurry up and I’ll buy you lunch.” Naturally I hit the gas. As I pulled up Juan and the family were sitting outside and enjoying the warm day and good eats. As I scramble to my seat Juan laughs, “Oh Watson.”

Juan has always lived in Orange, went to school there, worked there and now has raised his family there. Banking became a career 3 years ago and during that time there has been a lot of ups and downs. For the most part Juan likes his work. However like every job there are certain aspects he wishes there could be some change. In an ideal world a banker’s entire mission would be to serve the customer by finding the ideal products to help them succeed financially. Juan has had to learn how to balance family obligations with corporate and customer obligations. “Sometimes it can be too much. I want to help my clients as best I can and at times I feel constricted by management, but what can you do?”


Switching gears I start talking to Stephanie. She tells me about how she stays home to take care of their 3 beautiful daughters, a task like no other. “I’m happy Juan works at the bank. I wish he wouldn’t come home as stressed as he does at times, but because of his efforts I’m able to stay home and focus on giving our daughters the best I can.” It is because of the opportunities that the bank has afforded Juan his family can keep a traditional dynamic that many other Latino families also share.  

Honestly what can Juan or any of the Latinos in the financial barrio do but work hard and keep fulfilling their obligations? The economy is constantly in a state flux. Now as more of the American population is becoming educated competition is greater for employment. Now as there are more candidates competition becomes more intense what can those in the barrio do to stand apart? “I came from a family of hard workers. When my parents lost their jobs in the 90’s they went out and did whatever was necessary. I learned from an early age that in order to be successful in this world, to survive, and to provide from my family I have to work hard.”

As they left and I finished the meal Juan had provided I took some time to digest the conversation. It seems that the issues the Latino communities of Orange face are issues that applicable to all people. As the American population becomes educated more people seem to have taken on an air of entitlement. Gone are the days of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps. Even in the financial sector the expectations have become more rigid. However to maintain a traditional home, to be a provider for his family (and friends) Juan knows that all he can do is do his best and sacrifice, the American way.


About ocbarrios

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

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