Tag Archives: employment in Mexico

The Working Man

working men

So with the closure of Taco Express, I told my husband that I would no longer be party to any more of his money-making schemes. I continued with my own schemes of course, but I will not invest in his.

Therefore, he started job hunting in earnest. It isn’t as easy as you might imagine. Unemployment rates are high, wages are low. In order to just apply for a job you typically must have a voter registration card, a driver’s license, a national registration number, proof of residency (like a utility bill), a high school diploma and your own application, purchased at a papelería (paper store). Each and every one of these documents is a hassle to obtain. You also should have someone already employed with the company who can vouch for you. It’s not what you know, but who you know.

So armed with these documents, my husband began his search. The most difficult type of employment to obtain is regular old construction work. There are too many workers for too few jobs. Then come in the men from outside Moroleón, from the ranchos, who are willing to work for even less than the standard $250 per day. Depending the current value of the pesos that averages out to be about $20 for an 8-10 workday.

This affected us directly as this was the type of job my husband had been looking for. He had not found regular employment in 4 years, then he had that operation and recovery time, so it limited the type of work he felt he could do without re-injuring himself. For instance, he didn’t think that he should be a water delivery boy carrying garafones (water cooler bottles) up and down stairs.

So anyway, he had been going to different job sites asking for employment. He came home each day discouraged. Those with jobs just laughed at his efforts. Literally. To them, it seemed humorous that they had jobs and he didn’t. It didn’t matter what he could do. Definitely not the land of opportunity here.

He found employment for one person, who would swear at the workers, have them do things outside their job, and basically make life miserable. He put up for it for two days, until due to the overseer’s error, he had his finger squished (lost his nail eventually, but no lasting nerve damage). He never got paid for his work, nor received anything in compensation for injuries.

Then another job my husband found was working for the state constructing overpass bridges. He liked his boss there, however, one day he was told to climb the bridge and work at the top. Traffic was not diverted around the construction site, nor was there any sort of scaffolding or safety equipment. The workers straddled two boards set over a yawning gap, over the traffic. He refused to go up and quit that instant. As my mom says, “It shows he has his priorities straight at least. His family comes first.” Seriously, what was I going to do, here in México, a widow, with a young son and no money to return to the US?

Recently, he was fortunate enough to find steady employment. He works for a family and the family of the family, in remodeling their houses. They have a plethora of properties in the area and always are looking for more to buy and redo, so he’s had work 6 days a week. They love his work.

However, he has had a problem with keeping a peon (assistant). Most of the work requires two people, either to carry things or to mix the cement while the other lays brick. So at first, he worked with his younger brother C. C is the youngest of the family of 11, and nothing much was ever expected of him. And he has lived up to that expectation of nothing. He and my husband had a falling out when C took off in our truck and crashed into a telephone pole. So then my husband was short one peon. I keep telling him to not work with his brothers.

Then he had another peon, a middle-aged man who owns lots in La Yacata. But my husband is demanding to work for, he expects quality work and his tools well cared for, and that was too much for the guy and he quit.

Then, my husband had his older brother J working with him, but again, there were problems. During this time, J fell off the wagon and was drinking excessively again and missed work. Then he decided that he preferred to return to Tamaulipas and left my husband in the lurch. Didn’t I just tell him not to work with his brothers?

So then he went in search of another peon, but as this was to be regular work, most guys felt it was too much commitment for them and said no.

But there are always men looking for work, so I’m sure that one will show up. In the meantime, he does the work for 2 people but gets only paid for one. It’s enough to make one think longingly of the States, where there was always enough work for anyone willing to work.

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Failing at your own business–Taco Express

taco express

During the time we ran the Crap Shoppe, my husband found himself unemployed again. As he was still recovering from an operation, he needed work that wouldn’t be so demanding physically. He decided he wanted to sell tacos, but since I had all that stuff at the local, he couldn’t use it. So we rented a local in the ‘mercado nuevo’ which was a collection of locales (shops) that sold everything from shoes to meat.

It took a bit of investment, we needed to purchase a mini-fridge, a “comal” which looks like an inverted dish to cook the meat, and a gas tank. I used my aguinaldo (end of year bonus) from the school to get us up and running. I was excited. I even bought little plastic salsa dishes and bright orange placemats.

Not leaving anything to chance, my husband went to see Chencha, the local curandera (healer) to see what she had to say about the taco stand. She read the cards for him and said that things would be painfully slow for awhile, but then it would pick up and he should be patient. She gave him some spray called ‘llama clientes’ that was supposed to attract customers but smelled like old lady to me. She told him to take red and white carnations to the taco stand for luck. She gave him a prayer card.

We took our kitchen chairs to sit at the bar, painted Taco Express on the pillar outside and were ready to go. My husband hired his youngest brother C as his assistant. They were open exactly one week.  My husband threw a fit and brought everything home one day in the truck.  What can I say, he isn’t a patient man.

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Failing at your own business–Crap Shoppe

crap shoppe

By this time, we had accumulated quite a bit of clothing that my son had grown out of, as well as some other things that we didn’t need. I still had the crap from the first ‘bazaar’ that we hadn’t sold, and my husband decided he didn’t need all the tools he had brought.

My mother-in-law also had quite a pile of crap. She was then working as a street sweeper for the presidencia (town) and collected things from the market trash cans that ‘were still good’ and brought them home. She also made hand crocheted bags made with ‘fichas’ soda can tabs.

I moved my school things to one corner, bought a vitrina (glass display case) and organized the stuff. She and I decided to work together in minding the store and opened the Crap Shoppe. Now my mother-in-law and I get along like oil and water, so we tried to manage it so that we both weren’t at the local at the same time. I taught my classes, she swept the road, and in our spare moments, we opened.

I was not an active seller, preferring to work on my planning for school or other work that can only be done where there was electricity. My mother-in-law, however,was a professional street hawker. She would stand at the doorway, inviting EVERY passerby to look over her stuff. She also named a price higher than I was asking and usually got it, with a thank you from the buyer for the honor of buying this crap.

It’s an arrangement that worked out for the both of us. And there was a bit of money at the end of the day.

We were in business together about 6 months before she was killed. I really didn’t have time to open the Crap Shoppe full-time on my own with my classes, so I closed.

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