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Welcome to the Gringo House

Sometimes I feel a bit as if we are on display in our office. We’re not in here flinging poop and pleasuring ourselves; we’re just working. Sitting at our workstation, Malcolm at his big boy table and me at my trundle desk, we type, we grimace, we laugh ,we head-scratch, we wait under headphones and the days go by pleasantly enough. And outside the people of Progreso pass by and stare. Our office door is a gaping maw; the door project having paused for good with our landlord out sick. In the morning we unfurl the metal monolith and step into our habitat.

The cliche I’ve chosen is more to suit my own taste that for its particular insight or germaneness (germanity?). I could have quite easily written that we are living in a fish bowl like any one of those Real World geniuses who (finally!) and solemnly observed that the Bunim-Murray Interior Design As Metaphor Crew had creatively placed an aquarium as the focal point of every sound stage/loft. Can I get a Whoa!? (Intoned as Blossom’s brother Joey)

I could have compared us to rats in cages a la 90′s philosopher/bedwetter Billy Corgan if I wanted to blow your minds. Despite all my rage…eh, I’m not up for it. We’re going with the Monkey House thing cause, oh you know: 10th grade, grand falloons, Kilgore Trout, etc. Accept it.

Because we’re lacking a fourth wall (Real World references keep on coming, even when you want them to stop) we are literally wide open to a great many environmental factors, e.g., dirt and noise from the passing 18 wheelers, vendors and vagrants who either enterprising or begging want money, and daily foot traffic. Our office is located on a busy-ish corner across from the elementary school and near the square. It’s on the road out of town in every direction and happens to have convenient parking for local errands. For this reason most of the townspeople walk by at least twice a day.

The coke beggar rolls on in uninvited and demands 5 pesos for a Coca. Children zip in and gawk at the young Americans. Would-be customers for Bici-Motos next door wonder when the sullen kid is coming back from lunch. Before our landlord got sick he would toddle in to ask an English language related question and chat about radios and the weather. We are offered sandwiches, used books, and toy airplanes, depending on the day. Ladies in their colored dresses go by, as do burdened delivery men, uniformed school tweens holding hands and the occasional perspiring and ambling tourist. Our window to the world allows us to see out as well as them to see in, unlike the wicked Panopticon.

I understand why people may be curious. It is unclear what kind of business we are running here with no sign, symbol or corporate sponsor. We don’t make copies or offer internet for 7 pesos an hour. How could we be working with nothing being made or sold, no activity really discernible at all? We must look more like automatons or players in an absurd scene to the viewer, most of whom smile and keep walking on their way.

So as to be very clear, I am merely making an observation, as even the observed are allowed to sometimes do. This isn’t a diatribe, diary entry or naval gazing bedtime story. I am not making any profound statements about mechanized work and the human condition couched in simile (a simian simile, ha, I kill me!). This is just, like, how it is here on a workday afternoon, as if you cared.

It’s Friday and that’s all she wrote.
(That’s my new sign off.)
p.s. it’s awesome.

There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. It is awesome.

  2. Your situation always did kind of remind me of the David Rakoff Christmas Freud story on This American Life where he is playing Freud in the department store window of Barney’s:

    (It comes on at about 38:24)

    Off-topic, you guys MUST go try out the new “TAMBA Juice” on Calle 80 in Progreso and report back, please. It’s my favorite blatant misappropriation of an American brand yet!

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