It’s going to be almost a year since Hurricane Maria, as well as 1 year working at the airport. A very interesting journey to be honest. So I’ve been working on a small project that has been lingering in my head for quite some time and finally had the courage to work on the pieces. Trying to keep consistency for more development and fast content creation, also I’m figuring out how my comedy flows through my audience too. Even though I am usually most active on Instagram, I still haven’t forgotten my virtual home.
I’ve had worked for the past 5 years in the food industry and to be honest it may be disciplinary but is one of the most stressful jobs on demand. My last job was awful: from a heavy environment, competitive and toxic co-workers, exhausting shift and demanding disrespectful customers. Today I work in a place where the pace changes constantly, people come and go, some get their stuff and pay, others stay for a small casual chat that could last to the story of their lifetime. This project is based on the encounters I had with passengers as a cashier, how I uncover their stories and how sometimes my perspective was conflicted with their behaviors or representations as people.
Around 9 AM I was listening to the song American Boy by Estelle that the store in front of me had. I was standing in front of my shop, staring at the other one trying to remember the lyrics. Suddenly I hear someone saying: “Are you angry?” I turned and I see a guy sitting nearby. I replied back explaining that I was remembering the lyrics. He kept the conversation going with how nice was the weather and how bummed he felt losing his flight. “You are very quickly picking up your English! I’m John…” he said.
He told me he was on the Island repairing the areas for the AEE. Visiting several places, working non-stop for 3 months, while his family waited for him in California. He described how difficult it was to work with the local company since they had a different system. When his team finished repairing stations, the local company would undo their work by fixing the issue in their own way, leaving behind the destroyed work from his brigade. “Materials would go to waste constantly, I was frustrated…” he cried out.
No, if I did I wouldn’t have my family now , not even met the beautiful wife of my life.
At the age of 16, he ran away from home, crossed many states within a week just to be with his girlfriend in California, stayed with her and her family for 2 months and then got kicked out. Now he owns a company that works for the electric stations. He has 3 sons and most of them work for him. I asked him if he regretted any part of his past and he replied the following: “No if I did I wouldn’t have my family now, not even met the beautiful wife of my life.” At the end of my shift, I realized he was on the wrong terminal and I pointed to him the right one, he rushed like Flash. Almost losing for a second time his flight, I saved that man’s ass.
It was dark and cold in my terminal. The last flight boarded earlier and silence roamed the soulless space. Suddenly I see a dark figure pacing towards me, a desperate woman looking for her confiscated luggage that security obtained since it was unattended. She asked for directions and I pointed her the way. She begged for a difficult request, to leave her remaining belongings to me while she searched at the end of the airport for her lost bag. I hesitated and then I complied with my heart racing.
She left and I knew I was in big trouble but my empathy took over the situation. I hid it behind a big round chocolate figure, security passed by and challenge me for the ID, I challenged back, passed the test. Now the luggage, “This is messed up” I said to myself, but she didn’t notice since it was dark. Finally, she left, and a big air left my mouth with relief. After an hour of no signs of her I panicked, I was in an urge to report the bags, 10 minutes later she appeared with a big smile: “Thank you so much, you saved my life! You have no idea how much trouble it would become for me carrying my 3 bags all the way just to find my lost purse.”
Keep knocking each door and don’t quit, one in a thousand will open for you. So never stop knocking.
Cynthia was a young lady that worked for an advertising agency in the Dominican Republic. She recently found a new job in New Jersey, still, her old boss begs her to come back, telling her she would do anything for her return. She lived at D.R for several years and went to P.R to work on some projects, that’s when Maria struck us. She lost her home and took refuge in the local system while losing complete communication with her agency and family. Finally, she found a good job and that day at the airport was her escape. I told her what motivated me and what I want to aspire and she told me the following: “Keep knocking each door and don’t quit, one in a thousand will open for you. So never stop knocking.”
It was almost the end of my shift and I saw an elderly man walking around my store with a hollow expression, almost soulless. I kindly ask him if he was looking for something, he said he was checking around. Later he asked if he was in the correct terminal, I confirmed to him that he is true. Suddenly a loud announcement on the speaker: “We are sorry to inform you that your flight is going to be delayed for 20 minutes…”
Finally, he bought water incredulously and vented immediately: “I need to see my daughter now, she and my grandsons need me. My ex-wife called panicked last night, they revived my daughter miraculously”. He told me his daughter got into a car accident on New York and died at the hospital, suddenly they revived her and he received the notification, buying a ticket instantly. She has a man good for nothing and probably they needed to fight custody for their grandchildren.
My ex-wife called panicked last night, they revived my daughter miraculously.
I tried to convince him to keep the faith, giving him a hug while he shed tears and sobs on my shoulder. I maintained a strong composure, trying not to lose myself in the ocean of emotion. Then the worst came, the flight got delayed not for another 20 minutes or 1 hour, it was 8 hours due to some technical difficulties on the plane. He stared to the distance for a while, slowly walked to a faraway seat and collapse on it. I just watched it and it felt eternal.
I’ve changed path recently and I want to concentrate with stories as much as extending and making aware of empathy towards people. Watercolor will be one of those methods that will be used on occasions with special meaning. I found it to be fun and therapeutic to use, if you are considering to try it, please do so! There are more stories like these to be published in the future, so stay tuned to more and thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.