From the archives of Project 365
“America is different from Peru. Everything is easier, and there is opportunity for those who work for it, and remember to vote!”
I’ve held a little secret regarding the story of Monica and Matthew, that being as I met with them, we were not alone. As in all interviews, I’ve always waited to take photos last. Something that only takes a few minutes in keeping the pictures pure and organic. So it was as Monica, Matthew, and I were taking photos, an unknown face popped into frame. A happy, inquisitive lady, who sporting an Eat, Laugh, Love apron, was drawn to us by the repetitive bursts from my camera’s flash.
With light-hearted humor, she introduced herself, “I’m ready for my photo! ”We all laughed and were instantly smitten by her wit and openness to approach us. Her English was broken and my Spanish terrible, but we managed to unite in a few shared perspectives. She was delightful and not wanting to pass on the opportunity to better know her, and feeling crunched on time with my family sitting in the car, I asked if she would be open to being interviewed at a later date.
Her name is Betty, and I found out she was a demonstrator, and only at Ralph’s one more day that week, specifically, the following evening between 1 pm and 7 pm. We agreed to meet up and I promised to bring a translator to help us with our communication.
The next day came, 7 pm. The air was cold and very wet from a full day of rainfall. Lucky for us, Mother Nature had given us a break in the deluge, and knowing that I needed to photograph Betty outside of her workplace, I felt quite fortunate for the gift.
By my side was my good friend and interpreter, Dan, and with his Spanish fluent, he had happily enlisted to partner with me for the interview.
Celebrating her sixteenth year as a citizen of the United States, Betty had no hesitation in expressing her gratitude for what America had allowed her. After informing us of her relocation to America from Peru, Betty’s home country she gave thanks, “Life is good and I’m blessed;” a warm conversation starter on a cold rainy night. The weather was tiring, none of us were clock watching. But still, I could tell we needed to keep our interview short in respect to our families. A fair call seeing that it was Friday and time for all of us to be home.
I asked only one question and Betty’s wisdom exploded. I did my best to keep up, and for certain, if Dan were not with us, we would have been sunk. Dan was a man on fire, and with minimal breaks, translated words the blasted out of Betty too fast to write–another reminder to never forget my recorder again.
Betty was one hard-working woman who had great pride in her ability to work and provide. A wife and mother of four children and four grandchildren, her outlook was joyous, outgoing, and positive. Quickly I found that I had met yet another person who put friends, family, and others before themself.
“I am a good friend,” she told me, and after hearing experience after experience of what she had done for others, I wanted to be her friend too. Betty was the kind of person you could rely on. We should all be friends like her.
There we were, standing behind her husband’s truck, in the parking lot taking pictures. But isolated we were not as person after person walked by, each commenting to Betty. “Hi, Betty! Looking Good! Employee of the month!” Gestures that further cemented the person she is, and there was no doubt the community knew and appreciated her.
“Be a good person. Be united and nice with each other without judgment and help each other. You give and God gives back,” her exact words.
I started to fully understand who Betty was and felt privileged to be in her presence.
“If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward, ”Betty advised. “Find a job, make yourself useful. A trade, a passion, whatever it is, just move forward,” further stating, “this is for everybody, but also specific to the Latino community.” A very brave statement that put her on the edge of being criticized, but in it, I could see where her heart was. Her intent was not to be critical but to extend a call to action to her community. “America is different from Peru. Everything is easier, and there is opportunity for those who work for it, and remember to vote!” She concluded.
Betty, keep up the good work, and thanks for the lessons on being good!