Gringo at the Party

When I started my business I had all white boys working for me.   Labor for the tool-making trades has historically been supplied by European immigrants and their offspring.   My ancestors were Italian, German, and English and my grandfather was a toolmaker who came through Ellis Island with his family as a young boy from Italy.   Of five children and seventeen grandchildren, his eldest grandson would be his only descendant to take up the trade which made his living.

When I was eighteen, a coworker and I constructed a mold for a part which held chemicals and hung inside a toilet bowl.   The part was complicated for the time (before EDM machines and CNC machines were available to the trade).   When I showed the part to my grandfather, he was proud.

If you learn this trade well Jimmy, you will never have to worry about work for the rest of your life , he warmly quipped.  

He could not possibly have anticipated the cultural change which awaited our industry.   In his day tradesmen were well respected in the community and they received a top wage.   Today the big corporations send as much of this work overseas as possible.   A large sector of the industry has been severely depressed and those who haven’t closed up shop have made radical adjustments to stay in business.

Some have bolstered their precision in tool manufacturing to fight for that small segment at the top of the market.   This requires huge capital outlays for very expensive equipment, and in my opinion, very little financial reward, keeping these businesses on a precarious edge.

I have adjusted by completely changing the character and focus of my business.   In essence, I have started a brand new business processing instead of tool building.   With that change the demographic of my labor has completely changed.

In the old days (with all my white boys) I was the Boss , and the boss was some guy out to screw everybody.   There was a constant tension between employer and employee and many of my workers could not empathize with the pressures I faced trying to insure the company’s profitability (although many have called to express their regret for being such a pain in my ass now that they have moved on to management jobs where they are responsible for profits).  

Today, I am not the boss I am the Jefe , and the Jefe is a much different guy than the boss is.   In the Mexican culture, the Jefe is a benevolent father figure to be respected.   It is a completely different dynamic and the respect is well received, however it comes with different responsibilities.

Mexican culture has a strong Catholic base, it is also much more family-oriented than our fractured American culture has become.   Mexicans love to party with family and when you’re the Jefe, you’re part of the family (if you truly aspire to the job).  

To be successful in business, management must have intimate empathy for labor and in nearly fifteen years I have had only one workman’s comp claim which I managed to have removed by paying all the medical bills myself.   Meanwhile, many of my colleagues have had their profits decimated by workman’s comp premiums.

My willingness to embrace this culture with reverence and humility has made me the only white guy at parties with more than a hundred people on more than one occasion.

I don’t mind, but if you ever find yourself in this situation I have a few words of advice.   The lengua is tongue and tastes just fine.   Chorizo isn’t bad either, but I’m not sure what’s in it; it may not be Kosher.   A shot at your favorite bar is an ounce, but at a Mexican party it’s two, and if you’re the only white guy at the party, you’re not getting away without doing a few.   Try and stop at three, however, because six ounces of Mexico’s finest chasing down after the six Corona’s you already had with dinner will leave you three sheets to the wind Montezuma style!


Copyright 2007 Jim Pontillo  

6 thoughts on “Gringo at the Party

  1. If China continues with their recalled products, just maybe you will get some of that business back. However, I believe China is trying to mend their ways. Hispanics are a very family oriented society. That can only be good for the country.
    Enjoy all that good food, Gringo.

  2. Party on Jefe. Its good to hear that your staff loves and respects you. So many Americans think they are owed so much for nothing. Oh and they wouldn’t invite you to a party for sure.

  3. Oh please. Gag me. Glad you multicults are so willing to hire these folks and tout their family values, while saying they – illegal or not – are a far better working class than Americans.

    I’d argue the opposite is true. In the numbers they are coming here, their willingness to risk their pregnant wives in the desert, their willingness to leave them behind here when the commit crimes and run back across the border, their penchant for five families renting one house and destroying that house in the process, their absolute unwillingness to assimilate, and the crime they bring with them….it’s the biggest destructive force this country has seen in some time. And folks like you are praising it all. They break laws to get here, they break laws while they are here, and when we object, they tell us it’s their country anyway – WE are the invaders. What nice people.

    Glad you are enjoying it. It’s good to see traitors enjoying the fruits of their treason.

  4. William,

    Believe it or not, I am the last guy in the world to embrace those values considered by the “multicults”. We ought to enforce “English only” and teach American history and not “diversity”.

    Problem is, like it or not, Mexican culture is here to stay. By no means should it take over or subjugate American culture, but it is going to become part of our culture in the “melting pot” as intended by our Founders. The key is to insure these people assimilate, and I agree the politicians aren’t doing what needs to be done. None of this changes the thesis of this piece.

    We do have spoiled American citizens wanting a “free ride”, and many of these Mexican immigrants do want to work hard to get ahead. (See column #23 and #28, and especially #19)

    Getting mad at me directs your energy in the wrong direction. I’m on your side. I am so far down the food chain as a small business owner, I am only reacting to the realities I am faced with to stay in business.

    I already lost my first business to Chinese competition, and this business is being run with the labor pool available to me, I am competing with other Southern California businesses. Many businesses in my trade have already closed up shop. I am only still in business because I do everything, and I have a small and lean work force.

    What would you suggest?


  5. Sorry Jim but I have to!

    I’m an employee in a mold shop (same business as the author). This shop has about 17 employees (same small business). NONE of them are mexicans!

    Oh, I forgot about Sergio, but I didn’t know he was a mexican until he had been working here for a year.

    The owner of this small business does quite well with us lazy gringos!! He just got back from his fifth trip to Hawaii. He owns a fishing boat and a condo on the big island. PLC’s at Fontana raceway.
    Part Owner of a vineyard in Templeton. He started this business in 1994 with another lazy gringo. It can be done!!!

  6. Kenny,

    I am not in the moldmaking business…and lucky for you because there is not enough work to go around.

    My business is molding, and it’s a different business you moron.

    Everyone in your shop is making twenty dollars plus an hour. Shop rate is 70 or 80 bucks.

    Molding presses only get 35 bucks and can’t afford those wages. How do you pay an operator 20 dollars an hour plus benefits and pay all overhead when you are only drawing 35 dollars an hour?

    Where did I ever say all gringos were lazy? 

    By the way, the one guy in my tooling area is a Mexican U.S. citizen, and gets the prevailing wage.

    It’s bad enough our Mexican illegal aliens don’t speak English, but when white boys born and bred here like you can’t understand the language…

    No wonder we have problems.

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