Matthew Dexter

The Workers Who Have No Names
September 19, 2011

 

They whittle away their afternoons at Walmart, bagging groceries for gringos, begging in silence by piling their moneda in the corner of the conveyor belt for customers to notice. They are children. They are the fortunate ones. Better off than those forced by pregnant mothers to peddle handcrafted butterflies and painted whistles to tourists in marina restaurants or sleazy cantinas full of whores. These are the little fingers that place the bottles of white wine in your shopping cart. They do not go to school. Instead, they learn about the dichotomy of differences, the good and the bad, the cheap and the heartless.
 
¨Gracias,¨ they say.
 
After work they wait for the bus and watch the colonias get uglier: electricity wires hanging over unnamed and unpaved streets, unpainted houses decaying in the dirt. Some of them get off, but most ride to the end of the route, where the old rusty school buses are covered in clouds of dust from vehicles that never slow and the mountains are blurry in the distance. The children disappear into the abyss, coins jiggling; they purchase groceries at the tienda at the end of their street. It’s nothing more than a one-room hut with a few extra refrigerators missing light bulbs, containing frijoles and huevos, a plastic basket full of homemade corn tortillas covered in barrio dust. They watch the old woman bag their purchases.
 
¨Gracias,¨ they say.
 
They walk past rabid dogs scavenging like wolves, humans living like dogs. Drug dealers in fancy vehicles drop off substances at the tiendita down the road: where everything is sold on the cheap by boys young enough not to get arrested, fiends get damned, and the Policía are paid off. Wild kittens with fiery crimson eyes nip at their ankles as they push open the wooden gates to their humble abodes. They toss the groceries on the upside-down wheelbarrow used as a kitchen table, collapse onto miserable stained mattresses. Richer than their parents, forgotten by the tourists eating lavish lobster dinners beside the ocean, they focus on the fluorescent lizards licking the walls and the cocarachas hiding in the corners beneath the furniture that an American would never sit upon, waiting for the moment to scurry across the dirt.
 
Qué onda, güey!” they say to each other on the school bus the next morning.
 
The gringos are snoring in their fancy resorts, faces lost in high thread counts; the bags are piled into a pyramid, and the children are headed to the superstore.

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Matthew Dexter lives in Cabo San Lucas. Like the nomadic Pericú natives before him, he survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine.


 
 

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