Working the Registers in Los Angeles

In this second year for JIMBO TIMES, things are a little different. It’s a wonderful difference, because the changes with the blog are actually aligned with the changes taking place for the blogger.

As I wrote at the outset of the second year, J.T. is about honoring my mother, at the same time that it’s about recognizing the place of the working class in Los Angeles.

Over the last two months that I’ve been at work in The City, I’ve been at the heart of this ‘working class.’ In L.A., it’s a galaxy comprised of so many immigrants, or the children of immigrants, who work long and difficult hours for very little money.

They are mainly immigrants from Latin-American countries, but they are also from Asian and European countries, and all of them –at least as I have known them thus far– are humble people.

And it’s a beautiful thing, to think about the way humble people learn to live with one another. I see this most clearly at Starbucks, particularly when shorter of build, brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking customers–like yours truly–walk in to the place.

Often times, when such customers arrive to the counter, there’s this funny and familiar look in their faces, as if they recognize me from somewhere.

Naturally, I can only return this funny look, as if I recognize them from somewhere.

However, because neither of us can quite make out just where we might have seen each other, it’s as if we’re each a little embarrassed to meet at Starbucks, of all places; as if meeting at a McDonald’s playground or the local park for a birthday fiesta would somehow be more appropriate.

Of course, both the customer and I only briefly smirk at this –and in an ambiguous way– but once the familiarity is established, it’s like we’re cousins running into each other out on the town again.

This is especially humbling when parents walk in looking for some kind of frappuccino for their kids (as the kids run amiss in the background somewhere). Most Spanish-speaking parents can’t quite pronounce frappuccino, but they do know that the one their kids like is served ‘con caramelo‘.

When I then pronounce ‘caramel frappuccino‘ for them, the parents smile; I’m helping them get on their way. And I smile: they’re helping me get on my way too.

This is what makes working class L.A. such a fascinating world to be a part of in Los Angeles. It’s not a world steeped solely in financial hardship, but one that’s got a little bit of everything in it just like any other culture.

It’s also a world that’s wrapped up in moments. In a city moving as fast as ours, it’s easy to drive past all of L.A.’s character, but if it’s not clear yet, at this site readers have a place to reflect on the oft-hidden or unseen warmth between the people who live here.

As the second year of JIMBO TIMES continues, then, it will be my pleasure to expand on this.

With more soon,


2 thoughts on “Working the Registers in Los Angeles

Your thoughts: