Bear
Bear

There has been all this brouhaha about building a giant wall to separate the Republic of Mexico from the United States of America.

I don't think I'm making a bold statement in saying that I oppose such a wall because it's racist, xenophobic and highly impractical.

There is a more important reason, however, at least for me. An immigrant from Mexico — who in all likelihood was not in the country legally — saved me from being seriously injured and possibly killed when I was 14.

I had taken a job at my stepfather's adobe yard, stacking bricks. Because my stepfather is an old Jew from New Jersey, this practice was called "schlepping adobes." Everyone should do a little manual labor. It helps you appreciate typing.

The men I worked with were all Mexican nationals. They liked me. They used to make fun of my pants. Among them was a man named Isidro. Isidro had a serious predilection for large blonde white women, and there were always a half dozen or so showing up at the yard angrily looking for him.

But I digress. It was 107 degrees when the guy who would soon fuck up my day arrived — a beet-colored redneck with a large flatbed truck emblazoned with a confederate flag and a stereo blasting Lee Greenwood at concert hall pitch. (OK, I made up the Lee Greenwood part.)

He was loud. He was obnoxious. He had a handlebar mustache and an American flag T-shirt. We locked eyes for a moment, and I knew that I hated him. He bought 2,000 adobe bricks, and I was told to help load them.


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Math lesson: An adobe brick weighs about 40 pounds. It might not seem that heavy, but you try loading 2,000 of those little brown bastards in the blazing desert sun and get back to me.

A hand train was formed, and we took to loading the bricks. The redneck was not helping. He was, of course, directing. He noticed that I was struggling and decided it would be a good idea to scream, "Hey boy, catch," and chuck one at me.

The brick was enormous. It spun and flew upward for hours and hours before slowing and beginning its terrifying downward trajectory. Toward me. I put my arms up, feebly. It was little league all over again. But this fly ball sounded like a buzz bomb.

Out of my right peripheral vision came Isidro, My Savior. His body was nearly perpendicular to the ground. He blotted out the sun. The brick hit him in the stomach, hard, and he grunted horribly before righting himself and sticking the landing.

He put the brick on the truck, straightened his white cowboy hat, kicked his boots, muttered something unprintable at the redneck. And that was that.

The point is that heroes can come from anywhere. If you start restricting their movements, children are going to get crushed by adobe bricks tossed by idiots. And the next time someone tells you Mexico isn't sending its best, remember Isidro.

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