This is the second in a multi-part series on illegal immigration in America. You can find Part One here.
When I began my investigation into the illegal immigration problem I decided the first logical step would be to go down to the border itself. I needed to get a lay of the land, to be at ground zero itself. Unfortunately, my car had broken down the week previous to my planned trip, and with Mildly Relevant unable to pay for a replacement vehicle, what with the exorbitant insurance costs associated with sending me out on assignment, I had to take my own trusty steed into the local auto body shop.
I went to the repair place closest to my apartment first. The attendant – whose name tag read, Manuel – seemed pleased to have my business at first, assuring me he’d get to my car later that day. However, after asking me some general chit-chat type questions, which led to me telling him I needed the car back ASAP because I was headed down to the border as part of an investigative report on the evils of illegal immigration, Miguel rechecked his scheduling book and I soon found myself out of luck repair-wise. The same type of thing happened at a couple of other places around my neighborhood before I realized I should probably keep the object of my journey on the DL.
When I finally found somewhere to get my car fixed I was informed they would have it back to me in a few hours. So, trying to find a way to kill some time, I took a look around the neighborhood searching for a diner of some sort to sit, grab a bite to eat, and read the paper. Finding just the kind of place I was looking for not two blocks away I headed over and settled into a booth. The waitress, Marta, was quick and courteous, and before I knew it there was a fresh cup of coffee sitting on the table in front of me. The menu, as it turned out, was one of those overly complicated deals, full of “dishes from around the world”, featuring everything from lasagna to fish and chips to Chinese-style pepper steak.
I was both confused and intrigued by the wide selection, and when Marta returned a few moments later I figured this was my opportunity to quench my curiosity about how a diner that seemed so mundane from the outside managed to offer such a wide variety of cuisine. When I asked Marta about it she replied with a demure smile, saying, “Oh sure, it says dishes from around the world, but it’s really all just Mexican food.”
I was taken aback at first, and replied, “What do you mean, lasagna surely isn’t a Mexican dish, is it?”
“Of course not,” she said, “but I meant that as a joke, you know?”
I stared back dumbly.
“Like it’s all made by Mexican cooks. Get it?”
I continued to look at her with a blank stare.
“Look, everywhere you go it’s like that. Diners, Italian restaurants, Thai places. It’s all Mexican food.”
I was horrified. Throwing down a couple of dollars to pay for the coffee, I ran out the front door, attempting to outrun this demon of immigration that seemed to be haunting me at every turn. How was a decent, (somewhat) law-abiding citizen supposed to get by in this country without the Latino spectre constantly swirling about them?
Frantic, I began to run down the street in search of somewhere, anywhere, that I could escape from this madness. Finally, I thought I saw my refuge. It was a small Army-Navy surplus store that looked like it had been open for at least thirty years, and hadn’t had a customer in approximately half that time.
I entered cautiously, not sure whether the others had infiltrated this redoubt of Americana as well. My nerves still jangling, I was caught off guard when the owner, an obese white man in his sixties, who was sporting an eyepatch and an all-camouflage ensemble, snapped me out of my reverie with a loud, “Howdy!”, causing me to nearly jump through the ceiling. “Welcome to Chuck’s Surplus,” he exclaimed, “The Alamo of our time. The last place where real Americans can be free from the Mexican menace.”
Finally, I had found what I was looking for.
To be continued in Part Three…