Jan 15 2007
Joitske tagged me. It looks like a pyramid scam in the sense that I’m supposed to pass it on, but I’ll play. Decided to write about 5 jobs I had while growing up in Puerto Rico. In chronological order:
- I was a stock room clerk for a summer at Ryder Memorial Hospital central stores, at the time a 35 bed missionary hospital where my father was the medical director. Central stores was a one man operation in the late 50’s, so my job was to be the assistant to don Juan Santos, a very religious man. We received and filled orders for the whole hospital, including the kitchen (with familiar things like onions, breadfruit and plantain) and the operating room (with things made by exotic-sounding companies like Merck or Johnson & Johnson, etc.). I did get paid something, but it was definitely a political appointment.
- I got a paper route, delivering the San Juan Star and El Mundo. At that time newspapers were mostly sold on the streets by urchins calling out the headlines, and home delivery was an innovation. Also it was a bit subversive for a doctor’s son to have a job like that because status boundaries in Puerto Rico were very rigid. I was probably in junior high, so carrying papers from home on the Ryder Hospital grounds to the other end of town was the 3rd round trip walk each day (my brothers and I always walked home for lunch). On the way back I’d sometimes see my father driving to the US Post Office at the far end of Humacao after completing his morning rounds.
- I attempted to launch a lawn-mowing business, as front lawns were starting to appear in middle-class houses. I made arrangements with the owner of a new house about a mile down Calle Font Martelo and trundled the lawn mower down to her house. The lawn had never been mowed and was very bumpy, so the first mowing was a bit rough. Still, I figured the money was going to be good. Unfortunately, my father saw me and scolded me for using it because the lawn mower was “hospital property.” The fact that he mowed the large lawn around our house even though there was a gardener was just another example of how he behaved according to the customs in his home town of Westerville, Ohio. The failure to launch was vivid.
- Just before I went off to the states, I got a summer job through some connections that my girl-friend’s father had. It was working in the shipping department of a factory that we’d now call a maquiladora. It involved commuting to Naguabo, which was really far away (10 miles?) for that time in Puerto Rico, and “the connections” also provided access to a transportation pool where one worker would drive and 5 of us would all chip in to ride with him. It was interesting to notice that the walkie talkies that we were shipping were all going to exotic places like Saudi Arabia, the Congo, and Viet Nam. A glimpse of a much larger world, full of conflict.
- During a break in my college years, I was living at home in Puerto Rico and got a job in a car repair shop about a block from the Escuela Ana Roque elementary school I’d gone to, working for a father / son operation (Pedro and Papito Matojo). Matojo was not their real name, but they went by that, suggesting that their business was set up in the underbrush. I once did a painting of the view from the work area where we patched cars with “bondo.” (We used all kinds of products from the US, with their names fully naturalized into Spanish. Only now do I realize that “bone-dough” was based on the English word for “bond.”) Across the Humacao River was a housing development created after a horrible flood in the 1956.
I’m not really sure I want to keep this meme alive, but I would be interested in knowing more about John G�tze, Martin Roulleaux-Dugage, Jerry Michalski, Marshall Kirkpatrick, and Steve Dale. I may not have been reading their blogs carefully enough — they may have been tagged already!
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