Sunday, March 25, 2012

How I Met Theresa Caballero

While I was writing Theresa’s profile, I knew that there were those who are her opponents who would think that I was going too easy on her, and I was pretty sure that she would be livid with me for bringing up her difficult relationship with her father. It’s a delicate balance I have to strike with all my subjects between civility and honesty and objectivity. And I’ve tried my best. I’m sure everyone’s going to be a little bit pissed-off with me, and that’s something I can’t avoid if I’m going to write about politics. So it goes.

But with regards to Theresa specifically, beneath the bluster and the anger and the righteous indignation is a human being who I (and I may be one of the few in El Paso to say this) respect, whether or not I agree with her.

Before I met Theresa Caballero the attorney or Theresa Caballero the contender, I met Theresa Caballero the client. I was 17, I had graduated a year early from high school and was in a situation in which I had to support myself because my mother’s death had nearly bankrupted my father. I moved into my apartment Downtown and found a job at a very chi-chi bistro in the neighborhood called San Francisco Bar and Grill. About a month after I started working there the restaurant was bought by a family from the interior of Chihuahua, who had never run a restaurant before, and things tumbled downhill at a remarkable rate.

Both the GM and floor manager were cousins of the owner, and they were (and if they want to sue me- go ahead- they can bring me my back wages and answer to my complaint with the DOL while they’re at it) terrible cokeheads, who ducked out to the bathrooms every ten minutes and made the server’s lives a living hell. A couple of weeks of this proceed, paychecks were never issued, and one afternoon the staff called for a walkout. I couldn’t. I wanted to, but I was on my own and needed the money and the job, [most of the servers were supported by their parents and had the luxury, and Texas is a right to work state], so I was left alone with lunch rush and one cook to serve 200 lawyers and civic employees who walked in minutes after staff walked out.

After about 45 minutes of taking orders, informing customers of the situation, and refilling tea, the floor manager stormed in from the back and as customers grew restless, he confronted me in the middle of the floor, screaming that I was a low class cunt, and a worthless piece of shit in Spanish. After which I yelled, “Well, maybe if you weren’t so busy doing coke in the bathroom, you could have paid your staff and we wouldn’t be in this situation!” And then I started gagging with tears.

I turned to the first table to my right, where Theresa and a group of what I assumed were attorneys were sitting, apologized and let them know that if they wanted to wait, their order was in. Theresa, after I explained what happened earlier in the day, handed me a hundred dollar bill, with a look of utter bewilderment and anger on her face and told me how sorry she was I was in that situation. After she did that, every other person at the table handed me a 50 or a 20 and they walked out. As I walked from table to table, the same thing happened. I was handed a tip and the customers walked out one by one, in solidarity. After all the tables cleared I told the floor manager I was going to clean my station in the back, and I ran out the service door as fast as I could to my apartment.

I netted somewhere around $2000 that afternoon. I paid for a couple months of rent on my apartment. Bought some new screen printing equipment, and landed a job at the Times the next day.

That job at the Times as, essentially a gopher, led me to the place where I now stand before you.

Make what you will about her political and legal persona. I don’t agree with a lot of the political causes she’s involved herself in. But I’d prefer if our political community not treat her as a Lillu, and if she does really hate her father enough to spite his allies, as many have suggested, I can only wish peace and reconciliation.

ETA: Oh, and yes, I did tip the cook out before I ran out of that kitchen like my chones were on fire.