Posted by Sadie from ? (126.96.36.199) on Monday, August 04, 2003 at 1:25PM :
In Reply to: Antonio posted by Jeff from d14-69-187-7.try.wideopenwest.com (188.8.131.52) on Saturday, August 02, 2003 at 8:54PM :
Antonio was our caretaker and gardener...made some repairs and improvements around the house. He rode his bike to us every day from the small village about five miles away. Brought his wife over to meet us the first week he came to work...and his son helped out a few days.
Antonio has seven children, five still living at home. He's about forty five, I'd guess, bad teeth, slender and dark with the warmest eyes. he chuckles when he talks, walks with a slight dancestep and works hard and enjoys praise for a job well done. He gets all of $14.00 a day. We were able to give him all kinds of clothes for his children and made sure to feed him well.
When it rained I'd drive him home...saw his house. It's a sort of compound surrounded by a wall. Inside, in separate sections live his father and mother, who own the place, another brother with a family and Antonio and his.
They don't know they're poor. They know it now...but seem to consider it not worth bothering about. What counts is having a job and raising a family. He'd like to have a car and says he might go to America one day to earn the money for one...but I doubt it. He seems happy enough surrounded by family and if one person is short one month, the family shares and supports each other.
No one would want to trade places with him in America...and I'm not so sure, if he traded places with them...he'd ever be as happy as he is now. Life is hard in both places...but one thing you can't deny...if being human means being close to humans...Antonio is far more human than families tend to be in America.
They suffer from all sorts of privation...but that's just the point...they suffer AS humans and not as units. Given the chance the majority would come up here in a heartbeat in order to get ahead and share our "enviable lifestyle"...but so what, the Natives sold Manhattan Island for a few beads and cash. Humans wound themselves far more often than not.
The point is that if being as poor as Antonio is, is a hardship...he's sure got the right attitude. Given some dumb luck he at least has it in him to be genuinely happy with very little. He may die younger from ill health and bad nutrition...but at least he's alive and enjoying his children and wife WHILE he's alive. That seems to be what we give up...the time or ability to enjoy what we give our lives to secure.
We're obssessed with youth and perpetual hard-ons because we don't want to die. We could live 150 years and still have the haunting feeling that we hadn't really "lived". Most of the things we feel are close approximations based on the best and lates research...but they aren't heartfelt. You know it. A "Way of Life" built on top of so much suffering and degradation is eating away at our vitals...it's killing children...maybe not ours so much yet....but then again maybe ours are just dying inside.
Couldn't afford to keep him employed any longer...that was sad but he took it well...talked about how pleased he'd been to work for us for a year...a whole year. There are sons of bitches in Mexico too...but even THEY seem to derive greater pleasure from it.
I gave him my tools...a chop saw, jigsaw, drill, sander, bench grinder, new set of drills and drill press. He was ecstatic. Tools like those would be impossible for him to get...I know, there was a time when they were beyond my means. He said with his three sons he'd do some work in the village...maybe set up a little shop. They have the space, the hands, the heart.
Really....creating a world of simple pleasures...which is what most of us want, isn't beyond us. We're just owned from cradle to grave...have it drummed into us that "they" are out to get "us"...but in protecting our way of life...we're removing all flavor from it.
It's the children stupid.
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