The one thing I learned from being an illegal alien is that if you work hard, opportunities are always there when no one knows your situation. Also, people will take advantage of you being an illegal alien desperate for a green card.
Such was the case at my job. The store manager, Scott, left a note in my time slot. He wanted to meet with me at the end of my shift to talk about my career opportunities. Was he going to ship me to another store?
Scott had become extremely friendly with me after Donesha’s wedding. We sat beside each other at the same table. His wife was next to him. At first I was uncomfortable talking to him at the wedding because we mainly saw all managers as the enemy. They want to get as much as they can out of us for the little pay they gave us. He broke the ice by telling me he and his wife visited Jamaica and loved it. For the rest of the evening we were engrossed in a conversation about Jamaica and various topics. His wife, Isabella was Cuban. The first name was a giveaway as I met many Cuban women with that name. She was very fond of Jamaica and Jamaicans. Her father lived in Jamaica for 2 years as a dentist on loan from the Cuban government. It was during the Michael Manley era. He loved the people she said. She visited him while he lived there and she loved it. He and I talked a little about my educations and how I liked the US. He asked why I left Jamaica. I told him I loved the island but the opportunities were not as good as the USA. I think from that day he saw me in a different light. I loved reading business books as I wanted to start my own business one day. These books always say deals are made on the golf course. Today was the day I would realize that the golf course can be a wedding.
“Would you be interested in joining the management program?”
I was at a loss of words. Management is the enemy.
At the end of my shift I went to meet with Scott. He asked if I was interested in moving in to management. He told me he saw how hard I worked and thought I would be perfect for management. He would recommend me. It would require I become trained in every area in the store. I would learn the cash register and also the photo department.
I told him yes. I had nothing else do and I was scared of applying for jobs elsewhere with my situation. It also meant I would have regular working hours as a salaried employee. I was looking forward to giving up the night shift and working 9-5.More vacation time and benefits.
Immigration had tightened. I had the minimum requirements to get a job but some employers were asking for more proof. It was one of the ways to weed out candidates even though they only needed a driver’s license and social security card.
Donesha was waiting on me. She knew I was meeting with Scott. She likes Scott. He had promoted her recently to a lead cashier. It did not matter to her as she was going to be a doctor in a couple of years. She would be making “big money” then.
She was happy for me.
You deserve it. You are a good guy she said.
She and I had gotten closer since my marriage advice. She was like a little sister to me. She looked up to me.
Her “husband” was away but her immigration paper work was progressing. Donesha asked for my advice on how to proceed with her immigration paperwork. I told her to hire an immigration lawyer to do her filing. I told her not to take a chance of filing paper work with errors. I even recommended a lawyer. She followed my advice.
How did I become such an expert on immigration? I had a new addiction listening to people’s immigration problems on a radio talk show on the Caribbean AM station WAVZ1170. There was an immigration Q & A show hosted by an immigration attorney name Keith Panser. He was American and seemed to have a New York accent. He had a side kick on the show that sounded like a British Jamaican who would screen the calls and translated the caller’s questions if they spoke in heavy patois (patwah).
At first I thought he was cocky. He always bragged about how he won cases. I soon realized he was really a good honest immigration attorney. He had logical arguments for many of the cases he discussed. He was also honest and if he could not do anything to assist your case he would not give you false hope. He would tell it like it is and would tell you if you had an immigration case to adjust your status. In many cases he would tell callers to save their money and revealed the forms they needed to fill out. In some cases he would subtlety tell the caller their only hope was to find “romance”. He always recommended they get a lawyer if they found romance and was ready to file the paperwork for a green card. There were callers who would call in and talk about using an immigration consultant to get their papers. These calls were usually heartbreaking stories where and illegal alien was scammed out of their money by people posting to be experts in immigration. There was a Trinidadian lady that many of his callers would talk about. She had an office in Lauderhill and was suppose to be an immigration expert. She kept telling her clients that their date for their immigration interview was delayed while she took in more clients. She disappeared with thousands of dollars back to Trinidad. There was also a Jamaican man who “ripped” off quite a few of his fellow countrymen. His scheme was a little bit more elaborate. He promised his clients US citizenship. His plan was to get the citizenship through a South Dakota Native Indian Tribe that would provide papers saying they were part of the group. The scam worked for a few people but then was shut down when the FBI and Immigration authorities heard about it. Apparently he did not pay the Native Indians so they reported him. The people who did get papers through the scam were fighting to keep them and call on the show.
On many occasions I was tempted to call in for a “friend” and tell my story. You heard many calls for a friend I thought I would too. I was never able to build up to courage to do it. I felt someone would recognize my voice. There was really no need to call in I told myself as there are so many cases similar to mine. They were always advised to find romance as it was the only way to get a green card. He did not blatantly say this but it was implied in the questions he would ask. I always vowed if I would use him if I needed an immigration lawyer.
I listened to the show daily before I went to work. My addiction to the show was therapy for me. The fact that there were so many people in my situation brought me a weird comfort. It gave me the feeling that I was not alone with my immigration situation.
Donesha was very happy with Mr. Panser’s work. She asked me “How did you find his lawyer? Did you use him on your immigration case?”
No, I heard him once on the Caribbean station I listen to occasionally, I lied. I was his biggest fan.
I called my mother to tell her the news about the promotion. I know she would be happy for me. I rarely called so I did it at a time when everyone would be home, a Sunday evening. My mother would tell my father. I would then speak to my sisters, Sue and Kerri. My mother typically called me in the mornings when no one was there.
Sue picked up the phone. I was happy to hear her voice. She was happy to hear me also. We had not spoken in months. She was still debating between leaving Jamaica to study in Canada.
What’s holding you back? I asked.
Nothing, she replied hesitantly
I sensed something was holding her back. I knew Sue well enough to know she was not being totally honest.
Is it a boyfriend?
“Maybe” she replied.
“Yuh love out?” I asked
“Cyan talk now, mummy coming. We can talk another time” I replied.
Okay, before you give her the phone, I called to tell everyone I got promoted to being a manager.
“Mr. Bigshot”, Sue giggles. We talked for a few more minutes as my mother had left the room.
That’s when she said “Our father is killing our mother. He is driving her crazy”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Before she could answer I heard my mother in the background.
“Troy and Terri are doing just fine. I saw them at Devon House the other day.”
Sue changed the topic to camouflage the conversation we were having. Troy and Terri was a married couple we knew as classmates at high school.
“Okay, we talk more the next time” Sue said as she handed the phone to my mother.
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
“Yes “, I replied.
“You never call so I have to ask,” my mother was trying to make me feel guilty.
“I have some good news. I got promoted at work”, I replied.
My mother was ecstatic. She started to talk about all the people she had to tell. Like the typical Upper St Andrew wife she would spread the word quickly in her circle of friends.
She never mentioned my father. Amy, my other sister was not there. She was now going to a Pentecostal church where they stayed late on Sundays.
“Please tell Daddy for me” I asked her.
“I will on his return” she replied.
Return? Where is he? I thought to myself.
“Where is he?” I asked my mother.
“He is in Cuba on Business and will be back on Monday” she replied. Then she continued trying to rationalize this even though I know she knows what he is doing in Cuba.
“He has been visiting more frequently. He told me a great opportunity came up”
I smiled to myself.