Hispanic Relationships

Courtney - Lexington, Kentucky
Entered on December 12, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: community, work
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I started working at Taco Bell on March 1st, 2007. At first I was reluctant to work in a fast food setting, because it is a job that people have little respect for the people who work there, but I have adjusted to the environment. The majority of Taco Bell’s employees are of Hispanic background, which posed a barrier for me at first. I have never taken Spanish classes at school, but I speak French fluently. Some of the people there could speak a little English, whether proper or improper, which helped me understand tasks that were related to doing my job. Communicating is a major part of working there. Relationships in the work place have made a difference to how I am able to view the Hispanic culture.

One day I came to work, and I had asked one of the ladies, who worked there, how she was doing, to my surprise she was having some kind of issue. I had asked her what happened and she started to explain what was happening in Spanish. At this point, I could follow most of the conversation, she was talking slowly to allow me to comprehend the information that she was explaining. When it came to understanding the words that I was unfamiliar with, she would find synonyms or try to physically show me what she was talking about. At that moment, I felt like I was becoming one of their friends; someone who could be there when they needed someone to talk to or just to listen. The topics of our conversations no longer were restricted to work issues; they consisted of relationship advice, school, and family.

There is another lady, with whom I work; her name is Piedad (pronounced pee-ah-dad). She has two jobs, four young girls, and still finds time to celebrate events with family and friends. The shift I currently work is usually from around five o’clock in the evening until midnight on the week days and on Friday’s and Saturday’s, I manage to squeeze in a shift of five P.M. until three A.M. The entire time that I am at work, she is present, and when it is time for me to go home at night, she is always there. I wonder how in the world she can have two jobs, as well as a large family. I didn’t understand how she did it, so I asked one day. Her response was that she doesn’t sleep much. Working in America has many more benefits than what Mexico was able to provide for many our employees. The wages are better, but still not enough to support large families at forty hours per week.

I was curious how most Hispanics maintain two jobs, so over the summer of 2008, I worked a second job at Rafferty’s where I became a hostess. I worked the morning shift there and night shift at Taco Bell. Whenever I had a day off at Taco Bell, I opted my free time to work at Rafferty’s. At the end of the day, my legs hurt so badly from standing on them from ten A.M. until two A.M. I thought I had issues, until I realized that this is what the people I work with go through every day, not just during the summer months. It was hard on me to make the transition to working two jobs where I only had time for one. I found myself looking up to everyone who had two jobs. There are many differences between the two, even when it comes to the people.

I went to Piedad’s house, to help her daughter with a science fair project. She asked me personally if I would be able to come to her house and help her daughter because she didn’t understand the concept of the experiment. I remember, it was a Sunday evening, around six P.M. when I finally clocked out from working. My dad had picked me up and drove me to her house. I climbed out of the car and looked at my dad, to find approval that I was doing something right for once. I told him that I would call him to come pick me up when I was ready to come home. In the back of my mind, I was scared to go into her house. It was my first time going to a fellow employee’s house and my mind was racing with thoughts about horror films and my heart pounding, but it turned out fine. Everyone was so welcoming, her daughter was grateful that I could help her with her project and I was proud of myself for going outside of my norms to get involved with another culture.

My relationships with the people I work with have developed into friendships that I thought were impossible when I first started my job. Whenever there is a party to celebrate someone’s birthday, I am invited, even though it is mostly family who attend these celebrations. Sometimes, I feel out of place, but I realize that I fit in with them because we have many things in common. It is easy for me to say that I like my job because of my fellow employees.

I believe that it is imperative to have relationships with people one works with. I feel that my relationships with the Hispanic community have improved over time since when I first started my job. My first impression thoughts were “Oh my goodness, no one speaks English,” I was scared, and I didn’t trust anyone. Time has changed, I have learned to be patient with people and their personalities have begun to take shape outside of work. My fellow employees as well as myself find our jobs easier to complete, time flies quickly when the job becomes fun because it is not just about working all the time its about being friends. There are people who have been working there for ten years, and all this time I wondered how they do it. I guess I know now that it is not just the job, but the relationships that are formed that last forever.