By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Dear Mexican: Is there a pecking order at the places where day laborers wait to be hired? Are all those dudes Mexican or are some Central and South American, and if so who has priority? Also, after they make a bunch of loot, do they go back to Mexico and live in the lap of luxury? Dude Who Already Got a Job
Dear Gabacho: The ethnic makeup of day laborers depends on what part of los Estados Unidos you're in. In Los Angeles, for instance, research done by the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education has found that about 15 percent of day laborers in the region are not Mexican. In New York, you have big percentages of Eastern Europeans and South Americans (especially Ecuadorians). As for a pecking order, whoever came first gets the prime jobs, while the latter arrivals get the hard stuff. It's an American tale as old as time: My zacatecano dad, for instance, works for people from Jalisco. Papi hires michoacano-run firms for any construction jobs at his house; those Michoacán natives, in turn, get poblanos to do the sawing and shoveling. And those workers always hire a Oaxacan or guerrerense as a chalán to do the dirtiest work imaginable. All these guys used to go back to Mexico to live the good life after making their pennies here, but the drug cartels put an end to that.
Do you believe there is a cultural difference that causes Mexicans to have less sensitivity about personal and shared space? I lived for six years in the Rio Grande Valley. Immediately after moving to the Valley I noticed that the Mexican people at the grocery store, mall and most every other place had less respect for their surroundings. I found Mexican people had little restraint when it came to bumping your cart out of the way, shoving you or hovering at a disturbing proximity. I also notice a complete disregard for respecting the products on the shelves of stores. Is there a different attitude toward public boundaries in the Mexican culture? Feeling Violated
Dear Gabacha: You know a Mexican's sense of personal space is fucked up when our term for standing in line is hacer cola — make ass. Kind of explains our hatred of immigration policy, ¿qué no?