“I want to travel more than I want a car.”
In L.A., this is almost blasphemy. But Melvin means it. Just this past summer, he visited London and Paris on a getaway from life in East Hollywood, checking out everything from Stonehenge to The Louvre, to Notre Dame, and more.
“I want to go back,” he tells me “but for longer next time.”
My old friend’s got the grit for it. Working steadily since he was sixteen, he’s got the commitment of a church-man, despite not being religious. At the moment, Melvin’s on the hustle with two jobs: one in dining, the other in retail. It’s an exhausting schedule, and one that makes him highly unavailable to do much outside of work most of the time. A case in point: while we live five minutes walking distance from one another, it took over three weeks for us to meet for some breakfast.
Despite this, Melvin’s set on maintaining “the grind” until at least next Spring when he goes back to school. Like me and over 2 million other Angelenos, he takes the Metro to work. Day in, and day out. He rests only when his managerial duties just happen to go unneeded, which isn’t very often.
So just why does he work so hard? And how long has he had two jobs?
About a year and a half-a-go, Melvin’s mom got injured at work after nearly fifteen years as a janitor. When she asked for worker’s compensation, her employer refused, and while she eventually won some compensation after taking the case to court:
“It wasn’t much; hardly anything!” Melvin makes clear to me over a groan.
It’s one of the few moments I’ve heard him protest with fervor. Still, a moment later he tells me how rather than hanging his head over the case, he decided to team up with his older sister to help out with rent and the bills. He’s been hanging in there ever since.
On the one hand, his patience boggles me. On the other, it’s just Melvin; it’s how he’s always been.
Throughout the years, I’ve seen him put up with quite a bit; from dealing kindly with angry customers to covering a co-worker’s shift at the last minute with a smile, he always shoulders each burden with a contained, relaxed demeanor. While at times this makes him more of the reserved–even passive–type, I think it’s also fair to say it’s still a winning mindset. After all, the guy just got back from Europe!
When he’s not working, Melvin enjoys resting like hell, bar-hopping, and of course, planning for the next big trip. If you’re in East Hollywood, you might catch him hanging out with his nephews at home, checking out comedy at The Virgil, or grubbing with me at Cafe 50’s! Join us! And perhaps we can all take the train together for another traveling journey. In the city of L.A.