Monday, December 29, 2008


When Allie and I bought our house five years ago, the old storefront across the street was abandoned. Then one day we noticed someone had fixed it up a little. The next day It was fixed up a little more, and then some more the day after that. Pretty soon it had a sign out front: Carneceria El Torito.

It was an immediate blessing. We could run over there any time we wanted a jug of Coke or whatever. And it got better a year or so later when they opened Taqueria El Torito in the space next door. At lease once a month I load up on real tacos and tortas.

The only complaint I have about the place is that it's almost too successful. Just about every time I go there for something they've got a line clear to the back. And talk about a good neighbor. We've seen the owner out before dawn on winter mornings scrubbing the sidewalk. In a neighborhood where litter and graffiti is everywhere, his place is spotless.

Whenever I go in everyone is speaking Spanish, which is cool, because I speak a little too (though I'm sort of a Gringo version of Borat). But I never took that to mean that they're illegal immigrants. Maybe some are, but I'd bet most are in America legally -- especially the owners. In fact, I'm so sure of it that I wouldn't even ask for fear of offending them.

I mean, for god sakes, they've got health licenses prominantly displayed. That alone suggests that the proprieters are law abiding.

So it's a little disturbing when I see people cling to racist assumptions.

It's this kind of stereotyping that blinds us to the benefits of immigration. Were it not for our neighborhood entrepreneurs from Jalisco, we'd have a boarded-up eyesore, most likely covered with graffiti. Instead, we've got some mighty fine eco devo.

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