One Night Essay

One Night Essay

One Night Essay

Since Samaniego hadn’t come home from work and it was getting late, Florencia walked the six blocks to her parents’ house to ask her dad for the car. She needed to go to the laundromat.


After a while she returned home, collected the clothes and her three children and went to the one on Chadbourne Street. Florencia was still upset because Samaniego had jumped at the chance to go to the cantina with his friends after work. Work and drink. “There’s nothing else to do in this town,” he’d tell her. No, she didn’t want it said that Samaniego was tied to her apron strings. But he has no reason to go that far. He works hard, l can’t complain, especially with all that dust from the wood they saw. But now with the story that he also works Saturdays, he wants to be out with his friends in the afternoon. He knows very well that on Wednesdays I need the car to go do the wash. Florencia didn’t like going around being a nuisance just to do her household chores. If only she could work, she’d have her own car. Even if it were a rickety old car. Now the kids were more grown up and they could stay with Grandma after school. And she’d put the youngest in the day care center downtown. But she couldn’t. Not even her father supported her:

Struggling to meet your deadline ?

Get assistance on

One Night Essay

done on time by medical experts. Don’t wait – ORDER NOW!

“No, daughter, if your husband doesn’t want you to work, well then you don’t work. Yes, I know it would be a help, as you say, but we men have our pride. Do what I tell you, Florencia. It’s better to eat only beans and tortillas and keep the peace. You know, I never did let you girls work in hotels or laundromats or restaurants. Because in those places there is always someone who takes advantage of our women, pinching and pawing. Not with the gringas. The gringos always have their way with the Mexican women. For that reason I always took you there with me to the job to work, where I could keep an eye on you.”

The gringa, who had the business and stood taking care of and cleaning the machines, approached and asked if she needed change. Did she need change for the four washers and dryers.

“And don’t complain that I took you girls there with the sun splitting open your head; they can never say that anyone was ever disrespectful to you. Since I was the truck driver, no one said a word. It wasn’t only that I needed more hands for the work, with nine girls and only two boys, well you also had to help. And how you learned to flirt, just like real hussies! But what were they going to


say to me? If I hauled you out because of the things that were seen and what the people said. Back then, like today, the girls who went to school were like a bunch of little straws held together. And under the pretext of going to school, they were torn apart. Come on! So that later they might leave big-bellied, more than four months along. How was I going to let my girls go messing around with a bunch of pachucos who caused trouble for girls in school.”

Her older son, Gilberto, who was now twelve, helped her separate the whites from the darker colors. The towels together in one machine. Work pants in another. Gilberto was a helpful kid, with the patience and strength of his grandfather. Samaniego didn’t like it that Gilberto helped her, that he wanted to cook, although it was always the same dish, sausage and eggs. For that reason he had been teaching him to shoot targets with the rifle he had brought from Vietnam. His boy had to be a real man.

“And you see Flor, you can’t deny that it was better my way. You can complain that I didn’t send you to school, but all my girls came out good. Not one ran away. Not one left with a big belly and gave birth after being married only six months. Each one in due time and properly. That’s upbringing, daughter. Look, I’m now an old man, but listen to me. If Samaniego doesn’t want you to work, well stay home with your chores and your children. God will help you.”

After putting the clothes in the washers, she and Gilberto sat down to wait and see who else was in the laundromat, while the younger kids played on the floor with a toy tractor.

“And another thing I want to tell you, Florencia, before you start the motor. Don’t reject your husband. Look, one gets tired of that noise and then walks out. Then the one who’s messed up is you. Pay attention to me, girl.”

At that moment, Dona Refugio, a neighbor of her parents, came up to her.

“How’s it goin’ Florie, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen you. Well, here I am washing my rags before I go to the hospital. I don’t know if you know that one of my daughters is sick; they’re going to operate tomorrow for a tumor. No, for years now she’s had this little pain that just wouldn’t go away and no matter how long we’ve been with Don Canuto to fight it, there’s nothing else to do about it. You know how expensive it is to be there, if only out of sheer necessity. The worst thing is that there in the huarache factory where she works, they don’t even have insurance for them. Well here you have me rushing around to get enough together to put her in the hospital because not even Poncho has insurance for the family. No, there in construction, only for them, in case something happens to



the men at work. And what my daughter most regrets is that she’s missing work, and since there hasn’t been much work for Poncho this month, well there you are, it just gets to you with all those debts piling up.”

The gringa signaled to her. The machines had stopped and she had to take out the clothes and put them in the dryers.

And there’s no way I can do what Celestine said. Although she was recommending it when she sat down next to me in the bus this afternoon when I was coming from the clinic with the children:

“What happens, Florencia, is that you don’t know how to hold onto him. I stick to mine. I stick to him like the measles. When he goes to town to buy something, I go in the car with him. When he goes to ask Compadre Toribio for some iron, I go with him. After he finishes working on the car and wants to go eat, there I am, just as I am, my long hair a mess and wearing any old pair of shoes. And you see, when has Manuel ever cheated on me? He can’t fool me because I take care of him day and night. You won’t find me staying at home all the timel To play the fool!”

The dryers were all full and she had to wait with the clothes in the basket. That Celestine knew all the tricks. And she really knew how to play dumb when she talked about neglecting her children.

“Now they must have told you about the mess the other day. Well we got into a huff with the school and the city. Since Micaela stayed home to help me take care of the children, someone told the school. They came to see and said that since she wasn’t sick she had to go to school every day. And then even the city came around making its accusations, that we didn’t take good care of the kids, that they didn’t eat well and who knows what all. Well, considering what we have, the little bit of beans, rice and tortillas. Where are we going to get any more? There’s no way we could all eat in a restaurant. It’s all my old man can do to go, because he works. And I, well I need to be right there with him, so he doesn’t make me a fool.”

And she’s so calm, chewing, chewing away on her gum. And before she got off, she told me:

“The ones who were responsible for the meeting stuff were the neighbor women, no doubt about it, out of sheer envy. Since their husbands don’t take them anyplace. Here they are all locked up. They spend the entire day with their kids, washing and ironing. Now some gringas come and see us every Friday to see if the children are eating okay. To see if I bathe them and give them clean clothes. Now you know how it is that the little pigs don’t stay clean. Well


they don’t go around here saying that the kids are encrusted with filth. As if everyone in this pig sty of a barrio didn’t go about the same way. Now we have to be more careful because if we aren’t, they say they’ll take the kids from us. Now we only go to the restaurant from time to time. The best part was that Manuel got rather scared and now doesn’t drink so much. But there’s no way I’m going to unstick myself from him. So, you, Florencia, what you have to do is know Samaniego’s habits and follow him, follow him where he wants you to go.”

Finally a dryer was free, and then another and another. The delicates had to be taken out after five minutes because otherwise they would turn yellow. Florencia was tending to the dryers, when she felt someone watching her. She raised her head and recognized Ramona. She hadn’t seen her grade school friend for years, considering how much they had played together and fought. They began to talk about other times and other friends.

“Yes, Esperanza married Juan. And they now have a little boy. And Conchita? Don’t tell me! She married Popeye? Yes, and I always see Alfredo in the clothing store where he works as a clerk. Yes, the Rodriguez family left for California and Maria and Pancho are living in Dallas.�I just can’t believe it!�They now have six children! How incredible!”�

Ramona was one of Florencia’s few friends who had finished high school. Then she had worked some years in the onion and spinach fields, then in laundromats and later when they set up the huarache factories, she had been one of the first ones hired. But since they paid so little, piecework, she now worked in a blue jeans factory. And she had other plans: she wanted to study in a business school to become a secretary or typist and earn a little more.

“At my age I should be married and have children like you, but you know how bad it was for me with Samuel. We had to separate after two years. Now I don’t want to get married to support anyone. Do you remember Maria Perez, there she is with three in her family and her husband doesn’t want to work. He lives in the cantina, drunk. Why would I want such luck? The one who’s a little better off is Jesusita, but since she lives there next door, I know that each month her brothers have to go looking for Chacho because he goes away to Viacuna and gets wasted. And so it goes. My sister Marcela is also left with six kids. Kiko doesn’t bother, with this tale that Welfare will take care of everything. At least I get by on my own.”�

When Florencia went back to her seat, Dona Refugio had already gone, but her Comadre Ester, the godmother of one of the smaller children, had arrived.


“Yes, Dona Refugio left. She’s in a bad way, the poor thing. And it’s not only because Mere is sick. Just imagine, last night they fished the grandson out of jail. Who knows who turned him in and the police even went into the cantina to frisk him. They found I don’t know how many ounces of marijuana on him. It was a gringo cop, and if it hadn’t been they wouldn’t have done a thing to him. And the one it all falls on is Dona Refugio because she’s the one who scurried about to get his bail, because Poncho, it’s as if he weren’t a son. Dona Refugio spent all morning long looking for someone who might spring for the bail of a thousand dollars. Ooh, look no further! Did you see who entered? Petra. She makes them all drool. And you know how taken Samaniego is with her. Since he was a soldier. I’m only telling you this so you’ll be careful with that viper.”

Gilberto helped her fold the clothes and later to put them in the basket, then they picked up the detergent and left. First they dropped the clothes off at home and then they went to drop off the car. Since it was dark, her father brought them back home.

Samaniego still hadn’t come. When she saw that the supper she had left for him on the stove had become cold, Florencia decided to put it in the refrigerator. If he wants to eat, let him warm it up. This time she was more in control than usual. She then began to tend to the clothes while the children watched TV.

Later, after putting the children to bed, Florencia turned out the lights and sat down on the front room sofa to wait for Samaniego. She began to think about Mere, about the fear she would probably feel while thinking about tomorrow’s surgery. Mere seemed all used up and she wasn’t very old, what? she’d probably be forty something. And the whopping bill they would have to pay. It seems incredible with all the women working there. Not to have insurance for them! No, that’s a crime. They should join together like the women garment workers in El Paso. Only that way. Let the shoe pinch the owners, let’s see if they don’t move to do something then. No, if Dona Refugio is right, these gringos want to bleed us alive. She glanced at the clock. It was going on twelve and Samaniego still hadn’t arrived. How disgraceful if I have to ask them to go drag him drunk from some flea-bitten cantina for me. You’re all messed up because they mess you over and then to go off looking for more trouble. That helps these gringos screw us over. Although at times, of course, it’s like Samaniego says: “The one who shines there at work is Pascual Arroyo. And since they made him the subforeman, he’s the one who screws us over the most.” Such is life. Just like Mama says: “The squeaking wheel gets the grease.” It’s going to be just like it was in Mexico, in Coahuila during the strikes, when



Mexicans stuck it to other Mexicans. She had never been in Coahuila, but Florencia remembered the Mexican movies she had seen. That one with Pedro Armendariz. He played an Indian, an Indian who rebelled against the patron. But the patrons were as Indian as the peons, although, now I remember, the patrons were whiter in those scenes. We haven’t been to a movie in a long time. How is it in Mexico now? Surely it must be the same. When they were going together they always met at the Cine Rita, where they showed only Mexican movies, but they closed it down. Samaniego has never been so late. Is he out with some old cantina whore? At best he’s got himself into a mess. Tomorrow he’s not going to want to get up to go to work. And here I am wide awake too. What an idiot! If he ever comes home creating a stink, the neighbors will surely call the police. And if some day he’d lay a hand on me . . . I don’t even want to think about it. Better that Dad never finds out.

It was already one o’clock when she heard the car pull in. She immediately got up from the sofa, went to the bedroom and locked the door. Tomorrow they would settle accounts.

Translated by Martha J. Manier

  • Page 1
  • Page 2
  • Page 3
  • Page 4
  • Page 5
  • Page 6

Struggling to meet your deadline ?

Get assistance on

One Night Essay

done on time by medical experts. Don’t wait – ORDER NOW!

Open chat
WhatsApp chat +1 908-954-5454
We are online
Our papers are plagiarism-free, and our service is private and confidential. Do you need any writing help?