Acts of Kindness
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Contributor is Creator
The summer after my freshman year in high school I was able to get a job working in the fields. I was the only “gringo” kid in the crew and, although I could work almost as hard and as long as the braceros, the fact that I could speak Spanish really made a difference. I was invited to join them for lunch and for their morning and afternoon “taco breaks”, and they taught me words that were much more colorful than those I learned in Spanish class.
I had asthma as a kid and one day I came to work after a particularly difficult bout, still having difficulty breathing. I knew that if I worked in the sun for a few hours I would probably be OK, but I wasn’t sure I could make it. We were all supposed to work our way down the field rows at the same pace, and if you fell behind or were seen helping someone else you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
The field boss was in a particularly foul mood that day, which only made matters worse. I began to fall behind and was growing really worried when the bracero in the row to my left began stealthily working my row in addition to his own. Then the one to my right began doing the same thing. Neither of them said a word, but both of them were risking the wrath of the field boss just to help me. We worked this way for about two hours until I was able to handle it myself.
I have never forgotten those acts of kindness or the generosity of spirit they showed. They demonstrated in a very personal way the real purpose of the bracero program, extending an arm to help a neighbor.