I thank some of you readers for encouraging my writing. Here is another true story, but of course the names have been changed to protect the people involved.
They met on a dark road in the middle of the night, a pre-arranged headlight signal marking the transfer point. Pierce’s pulse quickened as his truck wheels slowed, and worrisome thoughts raced through his brain, but so far everything was going just as he had been told it should. Arturo, riding shotgun, stared quietly with wide and nervous eyes.
The truck rolled close, nose to back-end of the van in the manner of two horses doing mutual fly-control, and before Pierce could come to a complete stop, the door of the van opened quietly, a small shadowy occupant was ejected, and then it was gone, disappearing into the night in less time than it took the young man on the pavement to clamber into the cab of the pick-up. As if someone had screamed, “Drive like hell!” at him, Pierce wheeled the truck around and sped north.
There was an embrace, an outpouring of questions and answers, the laughter of relief as they realized the mission appeared to be accomplished. The two young men talked excitedly in Spanish, faster than Pierce could speak it but not so fast that he couldn't understand the news from “home” and the details of the journey.
It had all gone without a hitch. La mamá había llorado, but her tears were proud and hopeful. The first miles were unremarkable, then the crossing of the border and the transport to Phoenix was accomplished, and finally the 2500 mile van ride east and north. For a young man not yet seventeen years old it was an adventure that gave both pride and more than a little worry, but the network was experienced and efficient, and he had made it. Miguel expressed sorrow for others like himself who didn’t have an older brother awaiting them, or who, like his friend Pedro, had been intercepted, arrested and sent back.
They reached the farm an hour later, the darkness beginning to give way to dawn’s early light, and Arturo proudly led his younger brother up the stairs to the apartment Pierce had fashioned above the milk house. It was small, but there were amenities both boys had lacked in the shantytown outside of Hermosillo. Miguel was awed by his new "home" with its shower and flush toilet and thought how he would work hard to prove his worth. Milking cows would all be new to him, but he was eager to become a wage-earner, and so far his impressions of his new employer were living up to the descriptions Arturo had shared in their frequent cell phone conversations.
In the morning almost upon them, Miguel would be introduced to the Amish family who were also employed by the farm, to the large herd of Holsteins, and he would gaze out over fields more lush than any he could have imagined from his home in Mexico. He understood that he must not leave the confines of the farm for fear of being recognized as an “illegal” and picked up by the Border Patrol or State troopers who regularly patrol this south side of the Canadian border, and Miguel accepted that condition. Six hundred acres and your own apartment was a lot of space.
Resting on their beds, tired but running on adrenalin, the young Mexican brothers wondered how it could be that there were no Americans wanting to do this work.
Arturo and Miguel have the good fortune of working for kind-hearted people who can speak their language. They continue to work on the farm (and they are excellent workers), send their pay back to Mexico and appreciate these jobs that no one else wanted. Like most of the hispanic workers employed on our local dairy farms, they plan to return to "Hermosillo" when they have earned enough money to begin a decent life in their home country.