No honest and ethical job is too
low for anybody
My mom was
the (then) typical stay-at-home wife. Add to that the assistance of a full
time maid and you have a lady of leisure. She was a society lady. Always
organizing parties and social events. Being able to show her culinary
abilities in front of her friends was one of her sources of pride and joy;
therefore he joined all kind of courses. The parties, being fully staffed
with assistants did not needed her services. She did not do it to save
money, she did it for pure pleasure. If anything she needed something to
do with her time.
to July 19, 1979. Suddenly, we became almost destitute. My dad was
captured by the communists that toke power. All our assets in the country
were confiscated. In the months prior to our flight, my mom had been
socking away some money. Since she was doing it without my dad knowledge,
the amounts had to be small.
could recovered from the emotional blow that the fall of the government,
and all that meant for us, she had to decide the path to take in order to
take care of herself, my younger brother and myself. She, who barely had
to work before, was now the main breadwinner. All with the burden of the
uncertainty about the man she loved. We were never sure if we would see my
dad again. At any moment we could receive notice of his death. I will
never know what were her thoughts during the whole ordeal. This is only my
that were in charged of the school I was attending (the same school I was
enrolled when we lived in Honduras until 1974), gave her the
administration of the school's cafeteria. She bought a brand-new Datsun
pickup (the same I wrote about in my Automotive Series essays), talked
with the cafeteria suppliers and used her previous life knowledge to come
up with meals and desserts that were both, desired by the customers and
profitable products for her.
skills gained her better deals from suppliers and the appreciation of most
of her customers. We had 2 half hour breaks per school day, one at 10:00
and another at 12:00. My friends and I helped her on the first break (rush
hour). I did it because as direct stakeholder I had an interest in
increasing the cafeteria's revenue, and also for the "fringe
benefits". My friends did it out of appreciation for my mom and also
for being exposed to the girls.
school day was over we would go to buy supplies for all the food and
deserts that my mom would prepare herself, either at home (the desserts)
or at the cafeteria with the assistance of one full time employee and one
part time. Once we got home she would sit at a table to count the money,
do the book keeping and separate the capital needed for operations from
"our" share. Then, she would go to the kitchen to bake, bake and
bake our way through life...
ended the year after I graduated from that school. She then dipped into
our savings to purchase commercial grade baking equipment, hired a full
time baker and started selling cakes, pastries and cookies in mini
markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, mom-and-pop grocers (known in
our countries as "pulperias"). Her day started very early in the
wee hours of the morning and ended very late. Although she had the help of
a full time baker, she still had to bake and apply finishing. She made the
deliveries all around the city and the purchases of supplies for the
was the busiest time of the year. She would hire temporal help to make,
package and deliver hundreds of mother's-day cakes mainly to merchants in
the big flea-market. That Datsun pick up was doing round trips all day for
the three day that preceded the second Sunday of May. Although I was in
college full time, I helped a little, accommodating the cakes in the truck
bed (we had removable platforms and a full camper cover), driving the
truck to the market and guarding it while my mom was away delivering the
on weekends I would also help delivering products around the city.
were not our financial finest hour. We had so many challenges. We knew
treachery, were robed by those who were supposed to help us. Worse yet,
our good name was muddied and even customers were driven away by people
close to us; people to whom my mom lend a helping hand. But my mom never
gave up hope for a brighter future. We also had the understanding and
support from people who became dear friends later on.
I never felt
ashamed to perform any kind of job because unconsciously, I was taught
that all jobs have dignity. Even in the days were my mom was a lady of
leisure, she always treated the help with dignity, human warm, and even
some "irreverent" familiarity. She never allowed us to treat
them otherwise and she (or my dad) would not hesitate to use the belt on
us if we did disrespected them.
to me is what I wrote at the top: No honest and ethical job is to low for
me to perform. Latter in life I encountered countless examples of people
who subscribe to the exact opposite. You know, "status". In 1986
I obtained a degree in Architecture and in 1989 my professional license.
However the bulk of my income came from what I called technical
assistance. Others called me a glorified drafter. Instead of "being a
professional" I was "merely" working in an
"inferior" type of job. While I was concentrating on the bottom
line (the money), they were focusing their attention to the status.
My mom, a
former lady of leisure transformed into a hard working person taught me
I don't know
what went inside her during these times. In her attempt to provide us with
hope she had to try to hide her fears and pain from being deprived of the
love of her life, with the responsibility of two sons to take care of in
addition to herself. We seldom talked about our inner problems. I never
bothered her with mine. I dealt with them by myself. She was sacrificing
herself to provide us with an education. My job was to make the best of
her gift to us.
In 1989 the life of my mom
started to turn around again. After a period of adaptation my dad was able
to get a job in the private sector. Although not immediately, my mom
stopped working and became, once again, a stay-at-home wife. She did a
fine job with us. From the bottom of my heart I say to her: "Thank
you very much for everything!"