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A Brand New Lavarropas

Posted on January 31, 2012 and read 1,760 times

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renatabio A Brand New LavarropasRenata Florio
Chief Creative Officer
Wing

I open the door to my house and there they are: two deliverymen from the household appliances store bringing in a brand new washing machine (what happened to my former one is a story in itself and I can talk about that some other time).

The first one to come in is obviously the boss (he’s too old to be reporting to the other guy). Actually, I will find out exactly how old he is because today is his birthday and that’s the reason for this article.

The boss says, “Where is the machine going, miss?”

I respond, “Downstairs, in the basement.”

The look he shoots to his partner is not very positive. They both seem to know something I don’t. They come in. The boss looks down the stairs, then looks at my machine and says, “Hmmm, not sure this machine will fit through the passageway. I’ve seen that before. I’ve been in this business too long, know all kinds of houses and apartments in Manhattan and New Jersey… it seems too small.”

Obviously I become apprehensive. The last thing I need is to have to break the wall to make room, or even worse have to send back the washing machine.

But since I joined Wing, everything is all about the Hispanic market to me. What this man just said takes me miles away from the possible problem and all I can concentrate on is the fact that he is Hispanic and has been working for a long time at this. He probably raised his family doing that job. ‘How big is his family?’ I think. Three, four kids? He doesn’t seem to have been born here. I wonder where he’s from. I wonder if he left relatives somewhere back home. I wonder when was the last time he bought a washing machine himself. I wonder what brand he would get if he had to buy one.

A cell phone ringing brings me back from my thoughts. It’s his phone. He picks up the call and says, “Thanks mom, yes, sure, sure, thanks… yes, I know.” The man who knows all about his work and sounded kind of bitter at first, smiles at me very sweetly and says, “You know, it’s my birthday today. That’s my mom, she lives with us — my wife and my three kids— and she doesn’t want me to miss dinner. You know, they’re cooking something special… Mexican food, you know… we’re Mexicans and for my mom a party must have our food.”

I almost gave him a hug. Not only because it’s his birthday, but because he’s just answered some of my demographic questions: a Hispanic household, originally from Mexico, living with at least one adult over 65 years old, plus a wife and three kids.

The younger guy reminds us of the reason we’re all there.

“So,” he says, “are we going down with the machine or what?”

They start speaking in Spanish. I understand and smile at the joke. The younger man is saying the birthday boy is probably getting too old and that’s why he doesn’t want to bring the machine down. The boss pretends to get angry when his phone rings again… yes, halfway down the stairs.

He stops, holding part of the machine with one of his legs, one arm supporting the other side, while telling us, “It’s my wife, I have to get that.”

When the call is over, we don’t have to ask, he doesn’t have to tell. We know; she doesn’t want him to be late for dinner.

I can’t help thinking about how Hispanics relate to their families, how they value being among their loved ones. It’s not that non-Hispanics don’t. It’s just that the unique way Hispanics do it is a whole different and exciting world for me. See, they do answer calls from their wives and moms at work as if they were young kids, even if they’re 50 years old (yes, he told me very proudly, “50 years old, 30 in this business”).

The men get to the narrow passage at the bottom. The machine doesn’t seem to fit.

The phone rings again. It’s his sister from New Jersey; she won’t make it for dinner because her kids (she has three as well) have to study for tests tomorrow.

I don’t care about the washing machine anymore. All I see is an image; a live demographic showing me that yes, family plays an important role for Hispanics in the U.S. Right now in my basement I can see that. I see they celebrate birthdays with home cooked meals, and they care for their elders and want to be happy together. This is great inspiration for me. I must depict them as naturally as possible, so when they see the work we do at Wing for them, they can identify, hopefully entertain themselves, and say, “Yes, that could be me.”

I realize we are all speaking in Spanish now, no more Spanish between them, English with me, their customer. I feel proud. I am having the experience of being both a customer and a hostess; they are working but are also my guests. We are all playing these roles within roles in such an amazing cultural event called the Hispanic market.

The machine is now installed and all set. They did it!

The phone rings yet again. It’s his mother again, this time she’s checking if he’s already on his way home. I can almost tell she’s mad on the other end.

Let’s hurry.  No one wants “El Jefe” to be late.

Still very quickly, I say, “Feliz  cumpleaños, señor.” And he says, “Thank you, Ma’am.”

If you too have a story or a thought about Hispanic families please share them with me at rflorio@insidewing.com or in the comments below.





  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rita-Axelsson-Florio/100001276437838 Rita Axelsson Florio

    “A grande familia!” :D


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