“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, 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 type of commitment of a church-man, despite not abiding by any religion. 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 yours truly and over 2 million other Angelenos, he takes the Metro to work. Day in, and day out. He rests only when his managerial duties 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. I think to myself that if I were in Mel’s shoes, I’d be more than stressed about having to put up with two demanding work environments only to manage to pay rent for another month. On the other hand, Melvin’s always been one of the humblest people I’ve known.
Throughout the years, I’ve seen him put up with quite a bit; from dealing kindly with angry customers over the counter to covering a co-worker’s shift at the last minute, Melvin always shoulders his burdens 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 with his family!
When he’s not working, Melvin enjoys resting like hell, the occasional 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 yours truly at Cafe 50’s.
Join us! And maybe we can all take the train together for another great journey out there. In the city of L.A., of course.