The paperwork I was given for my forty hours of CalTrans says “misdemeanor” on it. If only! But at least this time I am spared the “riding an animal” embarrassment.
I was able to begin this part of my sentence due to the graciousness of a neighbor of a friend of mine. Linda speaks very broken English. She is the mother of three small children and stays home with them while her husband works. When I met her I was enveloped in the joy and warmth and hospitality I remember so well from when I lived in Mexico City. Even though I had a hard time understanding her (my Spanish is as good as her English), her smile lit up the room. She told me that her entire household is crazy. The only sane ones are her dog, her bird and her guinea pig. I felt right at home.
When my friend told her my story she opened her arms and home and offered to care for my children free of charge while I finished my CalTrans work. As I thanked her, her children ran screaming between us with an automatic nerf gun and a nerf rocket launcher, chasing each other with fiery competition. Her dog growled (my friend told me the dog has an aversion to nerf guns). She laughed nervously. I told her there is a reason hispanics will always have their liberty in California.
I arrived late because the misdemeanor paper more than one error on it. It also said to arrive at seven am. When I showed up, proud that I was so early, the lot was vacant except for one lone worker who looked at me funny.
“I’m supposed to report here for court ordered CalTrans work…”
“Uhhh. They already left at six. Ju gunna need to talk to the boss. Maybe he’ll let you stay or something.”
The boss had pity on me. I thanked him and apologized for being an hour late.
“Well, according to your paper, you’re right on time… just make sure to arrive before six on your remaining days.”
I was shown to the employee facilities and offices across the street and the mops, brooms and cleaners. I’ve done this before. Only the floors and walls are a heck of a lot cleaner than Skid Row. Eric, the guy I first met, reminded me of the rules which included not having a cell phone on the premises.
“A while back one of the workers called someone in his gang and they had a shooting here.”
He didn’t need to explain further. We were in East L.A. after all.
“You might just work here in the facilities… they normally keep one female behind to clean. If there’s more than one female the rest of them gotta go pick trash, but it’s easy. You don’ gotta do nothing wichyor hands. They give you tools to pick stuff up. Is not hard. You’ll do these five days in jor sleep.”
And this was the part of the sentence the judge said would be really hard for me.
Cleaning the staff offices was easy, simple work.
The boss even came out and chatted with me for a bit about how life in the fifties was better than now. I agreed, even though I wasn’t alive in the fifties.
The men let me sign out first since I was a “female.” I was, actually, the only woman I saw all day. I wonder if a we women would treat a man with the same kind of preference if he ventured into a mostly female profession. Like, if an obstetrician worked with all midwives. Oh, wait a minute… question answered. I hung my head in shame for treating the obstetrician I worked with in a patronizing manner. Need to make amends there.