Bob’s and Manong’s America

Every morning, when temperatures permits outside human activity, I would join a relative in his early morning brisk walk. He brings with him his adorable 6 month old baby. He enjoys tagging along inside his comfy, padded stroller. He never cries and always falls asleep during our walks. The village has a circular layout, perfect for such activities. Its quite common to see people walking their dogs and picking up their droppings in the morning. These animals are treated like children here. There’s even a pet resort and hospital not far from here.

This relative introduced me to a dear friend of his, a chatty old man in his 80’s, Bob, a Korean war vet, former teacher and according to him, a third generation Romanian-American. He too walks every morning but he’d usually take breaks to rest and talk to people. We’d meet him twice or thrice during our walks. Bob’s also a dog lover but the wife is usually the one that takes the dog out according to him.

Bob’s a very straightforward man. Tells things as it is. He states that he had lost faith in his country a long time ago. And that he’s both happy and sad about the current state of the nation. Happy because he’s old and had seen better days, sad, because the next generation of Americans would be inheriting a poor and weaker country. “I’ve heard stories from my father about the great depression and I’m telling you that it doesn’t sound as bad as what we have today!”, he continues, “we need a second revolution! they will come a time when states would cede from the union”. Imagine what Abe Lincoln, who came from this state and fought to bring the states together, would think of that statement from ol’ Bob of Cook county?

I don’t think I know more than the average American about what’s really going on here. So I’m slightly clueless how bad things really are but most relatives here and even those who lives in other states say that its not as bad. According to them as long as you live within your means and you work hard you’re fine. But I know them to be the hardy and resilient types. Not picky when it comes to work and they don’t mind having two, three jobs. Not all Americans are like them. So those who knows nothing but welfare and hand outs, those who complains and whines all day, they’re the ones in trouble.

Speaking of people in trouble here, I met an old Filipino guy begging in the local Asian grocery. He’s probably in his 50’s. This manong claims that he just got recently evicted and now lives in his car. I can’t help but wonder why he ended up like that when he had all the years to save up and secure his finances. I told him that I’m a tourist and couldn’t really give him any substantial amount of money. I have less than 20 bucks to buy some stuff to cook later that evening. When he heard that, he just walked away and never bothered us again. This is something that I don’t expect to see around here.

November 2012

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