(Photo: Grandma and Grandpa, Lake Casitas, 2004)
“Hey, Nabor. Did you eat breakfast?” the hotel manager said.
“No,” Nabor said as he closed the door to his hotel room.
“Vaminos,” the manager said. The two men enjoyed a great breakfast together before they set out on the first day of work for Nabor. While he was gone, Emilia helped out the hotel kitchen and impressed everyone with her cooking ability and her hard work. I suppose it wasn’t just us grand-kids who loved Grandma Next Door; everyone loved her.
The place where Nabor was going to be working was a gated lot near the railroad tracks. The gate was locked from the inside and so the manager banged on it. As it swung open, Nabor was surprised to find that his co-worker was a one-eyed, Yachi-Indian.
“Looky-here, Arturo,” (because what else would a one-eyed, Yachi-Indian be named, but Arturo?) the manager said. “You two are going to load up that train together.”
Nabor noticed an old boxcar on the tracks in the direction that the manager pointed and a bunch of scrap metal and rocks around it. Arturo nodded and immediately explained to him the process of loading the boxcar with scrap metal using a wheel barrel and a ramp which went inside the boxcar. The hotel manager stopped them just before they were about to get to work.
“This is what you are going to do. You are not going to be in a hurry. Work slowly because I don’t want any accidents. Don’t slip on that board and fall.”
Nabor liked the hotel manager’s style: He didn’t care about hiring a guy with a disability, he understood that a job done quickly didn’t exactly equal profit if an injury occurred, and he kept everything professional. At the end of the week, Nabor got a ticket which he took to an office building not far from the tracks and turned in for his pay. This was no small time operation.
Even though Nabor was now making money, the hotel manager still did not charge him for the room that they were staying in. Life wasn’t too bad. Nabor, Emilia, and Baby Cornelio could even enjoy a few trips to a nearby restaurant from time to time. Of course, all good things are usually ruined by well-meaning relatives.
Grandpa Next Door’s uncle discovered that they were staying in a hotel and was worried sick that they were paying a fortune for it despite Nabor’s repeated attempts to explain that it was free. The worry-wart uncle took it upon himself to talk to his brother (yet another well-meaning uncle) about their nephew’s misfortune. They both insisted so forcefully on the young family moving in with them that Nabor finally gave up trying to convince them that they weren’t being charged rent and moved out of the hotel. He thanked the hotel manager for all that he had done and then traded tranquility and privacy, for the daily domestic disturbances of his constantly arguing Aunt and Uncle.