... when you're constantly on the move, few things remain unchanged.

m is for Mexican labour

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ok, so straight off the bat, this post is probably politically incorrect but it's true, it happens all over America and it was very shocking for me so I must stay true to myself and discuss it. Let's dive straight in and get this over with:

There's a well-known problem in America that many Mexicans are here illegally.  It's an ongoing battle for the whole world to see, between the government trying to help and certain citizens who believe the 3rd world should stay in the 3rd world.  The unspoken of part to all this is daily life.  In daily life, their arrival equals survival.  To survive they must work but as they're here illegally, they can't get legitimate work, therefore they work for cheap doing most of the household things Americans are unwilling to do.

The other unspoken part is where you can find willing Mexicans looking for work: congregated outside of hardware stores and I'm telling you this in case you ever visit a hardware store in the US so you know what's going on.  It was quite unsettling for me upon my first visit to see what looked like a gang just hanging at the front door and I almost peed myself when one of them tried to follow me to the car on my way out, all the while asking me things in Spanish... Turns out he just wanted to help me with those buckets of paint and find out if I needed a painter!  Something Will laughed at later and casually said 'o yeah, I forgot to mention that.'  Well that won't happen to any of you - because now I've mentioned it (hopefully without offending anyone!)  

Most Mexicans and Americans know the basics of each others' languages.  In a hardware store situation, they know enough to communicate what they want done or how to do it, how many people it will take, how much it will cost etc.  But while assuming the hardware line is made up of 'illegals' is a fairly safe bet - the labour industry in America is largely dominated by Mexican workers even if they arrived the 'correct' way.  This is because those with qualifications can't afford to translate them and, given Mexico's economic problems, the vast majority of others are simply uneducated. They are however, super hardworking and trustworthy.  Case and point:  Americans (mostly) love well kept yards and homes but most of the ones I know don't own a hedge trimmer or lawnmower and many others get someone to clean their homes every week!  

Maybe it's so shocking for me because I come from a country where everyone did their own yard work and house cleaning.  I'll admit to feeling uncomfortable whenever we would visit the in-laws on a weekend and sit around the back yard with refreshing drinks and our feet up while a team of landscapers performed 'yard maintenance' around us that involved pulling out weeds and watering plants.  But why was I uncomfortable?  Just because I believe it's bigoted and wrong, who's to say it's demoralizing for the landscapers?  They need work after all, don't they?

Maybe it's strange because I'm from a country where Occupational Health &Safety rules micromanage every workplace and something as unlawful and un-managed as this would have the authorities heads rotating 360 degrees upon their shoulders... or maybe it's because I'd never really stopped to think about the fact that a 3rd world country borders one where the streets are paved with gold and the ramifications of that.


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Sharing my stories of migrating from Australia to the US | travel adventures | married life | furry kids | new experiences | lessons | and loving life despite always missing home. xo.

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spring in Austin TX

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