“A Great Lesson In Trust, Patience and Humility” (Part 6 of 7)

“You know, I really feel bad about accepting this…but I really need the money…I have a problem I gotta deal with,” Felipe solemnly tells me.

 “Well, a deal’s a deal… and I have my camera back…”

I got out of the truck.

“Well, Rob…you take care,” he said with a sincere, yet sad voice. It was as though he had lost his dignity.

Closing the door, I looked inside the truck and briefly caught his gaze. Part of me wanted to ask him if I could do something to help him overcome his drug problem; the other part said get-the-fuck-out-of-there and be done with it! I said nothing and turned in the uphill direction of Calle del Sol.

Thursday, November 24, 1994
Thanksgiving Day
The Griswald Family kitchen table, 7:35 a.m.

I’ve been up since 5:30 this morning. The garbage men are actually working today and I jumped out of bed to make the weekly haul. On my way back into the house, I grabbed both the Spanish and English newspapers. There are silly pictures of Bill Clinton and a fifty pound turkey given to him by some little boy; The President has pardonned the bird, hence saving it from the First Dining Room Table. I am deeply moved. Maybe the Republicans will see Willy as not such a bad guy after all.

The Presidential turkey story made both papers; Front page with a big color picture in El Nuevo Dia; Page sixteen with a small black and white photo in The San Juan Star (the one the impatient gringos read.) But the San Juan Star is not immune to silliness – it’s just a politically conservative newspaper. Instead, there is a large, full-color photograph of a Puerto Rican turkey farmer kissing one of his birds goodbye. He [the farmer] has an irritating, sadistic smile.

I think about how Thanksgiving Day is a bad day to blow your thirty cents on a newspaper. It’s the same shit every year. You’d think by now that we’ve had enough of cute turkey stories and all of that nonsense, or should I say, all of the trimmings. Stupid turkey pictures, pictures of homeless people standing in line for their free Thanksgiving Dinner at the local soup kitchen, ‘heart-warming’ Ann Landers Thanksgiving stories, recipes on how to cook a turkey [hey, kinda late, don’t you think?], comparative graph charts of annual prices for a turkey-for-ten in the financial section, TV schedule times for all of the Thanksgiving Day parades and football games, editorial sections ‘stuffed’ with commentaries on why you should count your blessings, theories on the possibility that native Americans [I can’t say Indians anymore] weren’t really invited to dinner by the pilgrims, articles on how we should behave this holiday season, recognizing holiday depression and how to cope with it, and easy steps to making your own Christmas decorations. Restaurants advertise that they will be open today serving “a traditional Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings.” Then there are the countless full-page advertisements by corporations ”’wishing you and your family a very happy blah, blah, blah, blah. …”, plus the same companies announcing their gigantic holiday sales a few more pages deeper into this holiday fish wrapper. It’s all the same…

I thought about Felipe. I wondered what he was doing for Thanksgiving: Smoke a little bit of coke in some sleezy crack den…or maybe pull the truck over long enough to jam a dirty needle loaded with heroin into his arm or leg; Then maybe he’ll start worrying about how he’s gonna come up with money for the next time; He’s got work, but can he continue? Will the drugs finally catch up with him and do him in? Maybe he’s more worried about his wife finding out about his drug habit than he is about her finding his bullet-ridden body in the street in front of their house.  Life’s a real bitch for some of us in this world…I’m thankful I’m not one of them.





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