by Megan Caldwell
Marc was waiting for a stoplight to change in the midtown Manhattan. He was wearing long black pants with black shiny shoes. Marc had just finished his shift at one of the best restaurants in the city. Although he asked me not to share the name of the restaurant he works for, he did talk about himself and his journey to the US.
Marc grew up in Guatemala with nine siblings and a single mother. His father left to work in one of the big cities when Marc was 13. Unfortunately, his father died in an accident, and Marc and his mother were left to raise the rest of the children. As the eldest brother, Marc tried his best to make sure his younger siblings could attend school.
Marc volunteered as a cafeteria worker when he graduated high school. The school would allow his siblings to freely attend classes in exchange for his services in the kitchen. Knowing this was not a permanent job, Marc eventually decided to move to New York and make money to send back to his family.
At the age of 27, Marc is working at one of the best restaurants in the city and he was extremely proud of that accomplishment. Working for a much smaller establishment initially, he applied to many jobs, eventually being hired to clean this five-star restaurant after operating hours. After a few months of that, he became a bus boy and now wants to be a host for the restaurant.
Marc told me that his “move to America was the best decision he ever made”. Marc has been saving money to help his siblings attend universities in Guatemala, help his mother with some of her medical bills and pay for one of his siblings to get braces. “Money is very different where I am from”, Marc explained, “a little money gets you a long way, but not here in the US”. In order to send money home to his family, Marc cannot afford to pay for housing and food. He sleeps on his friend’s couch and eats food only at the restaurant, as meals during shifts are free.