My first job in the car wash and detail shop run by Simeon also opened a window on what life as a working man, earning hard cash, could offer me especially since I could now take my girl out for a stroll in the evenings on Front Street, visit the Hindu store or just go window shopping with some money in my pocket. It was a nice feeling of, shall we say, independence and manliness.
For the days following I had a lot of work to do at the car wash and would hang around to meet some of the admirers of my work who were mostly young GI’s – American servicemen from the nearby bases, or preppy white boys who had automobiles. “Where is the ‘kid’ Simeon?” I would hear them ask as they approached getting out of their cars. “Music to my ears,” I thought, as I prepared to work on yet another car.
In fact, I put all my energy into doing the best, most professional looking job on those servicemen’s vehicles, leaving them sparkling and new looking even if they weren’t the latest models. None of the other young men on Simeon’s crew could render the simonize shine that I could achieve since I put a lot of elbow grease into my tasks.
My luck, however, would begin to meet up with our reality in Colon when other guys who worked for Simeon would show up looking for work from him and he would start to short-change me, scheduling me to work on fewer cars.
So, I turned to choir practice with Profesor Carlos Grant and the crew from my class for solace, the same class in which I had been able to avoid reading my paper on J.S. Bach. I would be in eternal trouble with my Spanish Teacher as a result of having won that competition and she, at the time, was also my Home Room teacher.
As we sang our hearts out in unison on the way home from school and dismissed each other, China, my other source of consolation, would be waiting for me in the darkened recesses under the stairway of my building.
This story continues.