September 22, 2000

First Person

"The Bike"

By Johnny Marquez Tucumcari
New Mexico

The wind blows softly on this day, it's a day like no other. My Mom is in the kitchen cooking some papa's con carne and I'm outside like always playing some basketball on our made up basketball goal of wood. I"m 8 and my brother Manuel is 9. My Dad is inside reading or something, I really don't remember what he's doing. I see my hermano coming down the street walking his bike, he looks like he's scared. Behind him in a car is some guy, I can't make out his face really good, but he doesn't look very happy.

When my brother gets to the house he calls for my Dad and my Dad comes outside. My brother had been riding his bike and for some reason he decided to look at his back wheel (I still don't understand it), he said it felt like it was wobbly so he's checking it out. He wasn't looking where he was going and slammed right into this caucasian's car, the man isn't very happy, but my brother says he didn't even ask him if he was ok, he only cared about his car.

My Dad goes outside to talk to this man. The man tells my Dad that he wants money so he can fix the dent. We didn't have any money, so my Dad tells him he can pay him in payments, the man is pissed. After trying his best to be civil my Dad finally loses it and tells him to get the hell out of here, I guess my Dad was pissed to. Anyhow, he took us to court and came in with some really high estimates. My Dad had known the Judge for a while, having worked for him on the side for many years. My Dad tells him that he could get a better estimate and the man is pissed again. The judge lets my Dad get a better estimate, and it ends up costing like $200.00 to fix. My Dad even sets it up so he can make monthly payments.

I know that it was my brothers fault because he was looking at his wheels instead of the road. I know that this man had every right to be pissed because it was his ride. I know this, but why he didn't care how my brother was I don't understand. Why he thought we could fork out some bucks when he drove up to our house, and unless he was stupid, should have known we didn't have any money. There are many things I still don't understand about that day. I try not to see him as a gringo just wanting some money because he could get it, but maybe he was. I try not to see the whole thing as something that went against us because we were poor and Hispanic, but for some reason I do.

Whenever I pass a familia who is down on their luck I wonder if they go through these same kinds of problems. I wonder if they see life like I tried not to see it like then, everyone holding us down. We can let ourselves believe what we want to believe, but we can't start believing that we can't do things because of who we are, you'll never get anywhere like that if you do.

This one day sticks in my mind everyday of my life. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it happened in the 70's. Some things have changed and others have not. There are still racist people in the world, there are even some in our own gente who are racist, it has no class distinction. If you think someday it will end you're living a dream, it would have ended by now. The Hispanic population is getting bigger, an although we will have a stronger voice in the future, it will also make others very jealous, it will be a wonderful time and a dangerous time for all of us as well. We just have to learn to live our lives the way we want to live them. Maybe you've had a rough life, maybe no one understands it like you do, but don't make it an excuse. Stand up for who you are what you want to be someday. You're future is now, never forget that.

As for the bike, my Dad bent it back into shape and my brother was on his way, although he probably never looked at his back wheel again, but knowing my hermano, he probably did!

I write as a regular Hispanic in the United States. I've done nothing special in my life. I only believe that through writing and education can we as a people in general step forward, not only leaders in our country but as also as individuals.

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