Calling Cards

El Toro was the best, at least from payphones, because El Mexicano and the other one’s charged you surcharges every time you called, even though the rates per minute were cheaper. Everyone had someone to call, a novia, parents, wife, kids, familia. It was one of the only consistencies beyond the western union wire every paycheck. El Rancho employed year round, so it made it easier for families to settle, and harder for those with deeper roots whose families remained alla. One man would keep me company at the store where I worked during High School, from 4:15AM till the bus picked me up at 7:50 and after school when I’d close at 9PM and during the weekends when I’d work 12-18 hour shifts depending on the days. He had a set time he’d call his family on the payphone every Sunday, on the weekdays he’d wait for his ride to el campo at the store, he’d be the first one at the door, waiting for me to open at 5:00. After work he’d be there chillin’ after watching the cuadrillas square off in the soccer field behind the store. Sometimes he’d ask me to read his letters, or help him fill out some forms. Always asking about my life and telling me about his family, back home and how he wanted to bring them up. He had a son my age…


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