Umarex Gauntlet


Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Thursday, June 07, 2018
Adventures in driving
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Adventures in Span-glish!

You got one shot
So…in the 12 years writing this column, there are two topics I generally avoid. Religion and politics. Even in my own personal conversations. Off-limits.

Want to see my eyes glaze over? Want to see me mentally check out? La la la la la…I can’t hear you.

I do love “discussion.” That’s fun. And enlightening.

But, even moreso these days, either topic is so volatile. And it’s not a discussion.

It’s an argument. Arguments by definition are a battle. There’s an insistence on winning or, at least, winning over the other person. And when does that ever happen?


I spent too many years as a litigation attorney in a past life in a courtroom and had a lifetime of argument. And my current life path doesn’t need that kind of agitation anymore!

It’s just easier to walk away. Easier to just say “We’ll agree to disagree” than gird up for battle. Life’s too freakin’ short.

And believe me, I know how to win a verbal argument. I was a professional. And I don’t like to lose…especially if I think I’m right. And, of course I’m right! Hahahaha…

But, I don’t need more scar tissue. And I don’t need to lose more friends.

So, my column this week isn’t a political statement. It’s merely an observation.

Mexico just had its presidential election. Six years in office. President Enrique Nieto out. New Presidente Andres Obrador is on deck.

You only get one six-year term.

And, maybe it was just me, but President Nieto seemed awfully quiet his last three years in office. He just fell out’ve the headlines. Didn’t want to make waves. No reason to make more promises.

Why? You don’t have to campaign again. What d’ya care? Live large. Wave and smile. Cruise control. Autopilot. Just ride it out. Disappear into the sunset. You had your one shot.

And now it’s President Obrador’s turn. And I genuinely wish him Godspeed and good luck. One shot to make a difference.

One shot.

That got me thinking about all the folks we know here at ground-zero. Our friends. Working class blue collar. Eeking out livings. Family people.

I don’t know a lot of Mexico politicians or bureaucrats.

I try to keep my distance from both, although former Baja governor Marcos Covarubias used to come into our Tailhunter Restaurant here in La Paz. His wife liked to watch boxing and he liked our Hawaiian ribs and cold beer. We didn’t talk politics either.

But the folks we mostly hang with are regular folks like you and me. We’ve grown to love and respect so many of them and call them our friends. Hopefully, it’s mutual.

But, there’s one big difference. It was explained to me by one of our long-time employees recently.

He’s almost 60-years-old. He’s been a cook or dishwasher for almost his whole life. And he wanted to thank me for his job, which he thought was the most wonderful job he ever had.

And he said he hoped he could work for us forever!

I think we try to make a good work environment for all our employees. But work for me “forever?” Like… as in… “the rest of your life?”

You see, here in Mexico, you have…one shot.

You start out as a cook…a dishwasher…a taxi driver…a laborer…and chances are, that’s what you’ll be doing the next 40 years.

That’s it.

You start your kid down that road and he or she will probably be doing the same thing for their whole lives as well. And their kids. No other hope.

In many cases, we see folks so used to that path, that they have no other ambition either.

They HOPE to get that job as a janitor. They HOPE their kid gets that job cooking taco meat. They HOPE to always be a security guard. That’s their dream.

That’s the extent of life…and career…and ambition.

That’s it. One shot.

The education level doesn’t help.

Mandatory free public education…for what it’s worth…is only good until 6th grade. After that, the family has to pay. If they can afford it, they usually pay for the boys.

The girls are expected to…??? Fill in your own blank.

Even kids that make it to college level. We know a zillion kids who get degrees here in La Paz in “tourism.”

What that generally means is that they have some English skills and are now qualified to work behind the reception counter in a hotel. Or handing out towels behind the pool. For the rest of their lives.

In many of the hotels and restaurants, the real work force is governed by powerful unions. Yes, there are some benefits to having the union. Or not.

To get that job as the maintenance guy or cashier at the hotel, you MUST be part of the union.

If you want to better yourself and become, for example, a cook, you lose whatever accrued benefits you had as a dishwasher. So…Welcome to 40 years of cleaning plates with mandatory retirement at age 60. No motivation to change.

Choose your station in life wisely, amigo. The glass ceiling is made out’ve concrete.

You might go to another restaurant or hotel along the way…but always as a dishwasher. Oh, and minimum wage is like 8 bucks…A DAY! Six days a week.

So, I look at our good friends and employees and know how I’d feel knowing that what I’m doing AT THIS MOMENT is what I’ll be doing the rest of my life.

Is this as good as it gets? As good as it is ever going to be?

At more than 60-years-old now, I’m still looking to move up. Looking for the next opportunity. Trying to make tomorrow a bit better. There’s hope.

For so many of our local friends…

One shot.

I’m sure everyone is hopeful that the new presidential administration will be an upgrade. Will be different. Will make a difference.

But as they head to work for another day, most just shrug and push on. Another day. Just like yesterday. And it’ll be the same tomorrow.

* * *

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