This is a little piece I wrote over 7 years ago about an immigrant who I worked with at a TGI Fridays in Savannah.
"Frederico is one of the dishwashers at work. Frederico never says much and no one talks to him much either. Perhaps it's that they're intimidated by the language barrier or maybe they don't care. I hope it's not the latter. I always make it a point to speak to him every day, in Spanish when possible. It's a language practice thing for me but I'm also curious as to what his story is.
Tonight, as I went to change to go home, cash tucked in my back pocket, (just in case someone wants my wallet) I saw Frederico sitting quietly in the break room. He had his dirty apron rolled up on the tables as he took a drag from his cigarette. "Como estas?" I said as I pulled off my work polo and pulled on my beloved fishing tshirt. "Bien" he replied in a faraway, subdued voice. I sensed something was wrong, but I didn't press him. He started to speak in his halting English and then it poured out in a mix of Spanish and English. Frederico is from Mexico and he is here not to make his new life in the US, all he wants is to make seven thousand dollars so he can go back home and pay for his house. Frederico doesn't want a new TV, a new fancy car, or designer clothes. All he wants is to have a home for his family.
I saw a little tear well up in his eye when he mentioned his two children, one 7 and one 3. People take such things for granted, their families, their children. Yet this is all he wants, to be with his family. Perhaps the "American Dream" doesn't impress him, who knows? I just find him to be such a refreshing alternative to the pettiness and materialistic conversation I am forced to deal with in this restaraunt. There will be more time spent with Frederico from now on. Everyone could learn something from this quiet man."