First vs. Second Generation

Our washing machine gave out a couple of months ago. We have been meaning to replace it ever since then, but well, there’s always something else that comes up. And since we haven’t purchased a new one, every week, or every other week sometimes, we drive over to the neighborhood lavandería to wash our clothes.

On this particular Saturday we were there right about closing time. The lady who owns the washateria was walking around lining up the rolling carts people use to push their clothes; we were hurriedly trying to get everything dry and folded before we got kicked out; and then, I noticed the little girl about 10 feet away from us. She was holding a wet sponge in one hand, a moist towel in the other. While she maneuvered herself from one washing machine to another, tip-toeing on the concrete slab about 4 inches from the ground that all the machines were sitting atop of, she dipped her sponge into a plastic container full of soap and water, and scrubbed the inner and outer surfaces of the washing machine doors, before drying each one of them off with the moist towel in her other hand.

I then couldn’t help but notice Edgar sitting on the chair next to us, without a care in the world, playing a game on his phone. It tickled me really, and then I nodded to Anjelica: “Look. There is the difference between first generation vs. second generation kids,” I said.

What I was saying, in hindsight, was not necessarily that second generation kids are lazier than first generation kids, although I do think that maybe that is the case in a lot of cases. But giving our huercos (the second generation ones) the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it isn’t all entirely their fault. How often do we really demand the responsibilities and accountability that our parents used to demand of us?

In my household, my parents worked long hours. They rarely could afford to buy us expensive things. Every year, at the beginning of the summer we would pick out three pairs of jeans, three shirts, a pair of shoes, some socks, and some underwear, and we’d put them on layaway. Every week after that my parents would return to the store to make their payments. By the end of the summer we would have our school clothes for the next year. We didn’t have things to take for granted, and we really didn’t miss them. Probably because we didn’t know any better.

I should also note here that my parents would very likely say the same thing about us (the first generation huercos).

Standing there, however, staring at the truth in front of me (Edgar and the little girl about his age), I couldn’t help but  wrestle with the subtle little differences I was witnessing. This young girl was so meticulous in cleaning her washing machines. Her mother was on the other end of the lavandería doing the same thing. Slowly, but steadily, they were making their way to one another one washing machine at a time, every once in a while raising their voices and their heads to say something to each other. They were so in sync, and the young daughter seemed so mature and responsible at that moment.

Just then I heard Anjelica tell Edgar to grab a push cart and take a load of clothing out of one of the dryers. Immediately I was back, out of my own head, and I thought to myself… “hmm, maybe I wasn’t the only one having these thoughts.”

Now I’m wondering if we’re the only ones who’ve had these thoughts before. Something tells me we’re not.