This is really about Frank. Yeah, I know, who the hell is Frank?
Yeah, okay, well don’t worry about that.
Back in the mid-seventies, after finishing college I ran headlong into the ’74 Recession/Arab Oil Embargo. It was a scene from a bad movie, and could’ve been the worst recession I’ve ever lived through, except that being single with no obligations, it was just bad. Gas stations were backed up for blocks selling gas for something like 700% more than it sold for the previous month and of course, it was selling like it was going out of style. As fate would have it, I had just left Ithaca, which had few jobs and few people to compete for the jobs that weren’t there, and moved to Boston, which had few jobs and a ton of people looking for work fresh out of college. I lucked out and got a job as a waiter at a hotel.
There was a food-prep guy there named Frank.
Frank spoke only Spanish. Every night after work, we’d all walk down to the basement of the hotel to go through security and out to our cars. Frank was always leaving the same time I was. Over time, I noticed that he said the word burro a hell of a lot. Boordo! (sort of). When he’d see a friend, he’d say “Burro! Como esta?” and there’d be hugging and back-slapping. When he saw someone he didn’t particularly care for, he’d lean back to me and say, “Es un burro….” in a low voice. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that in Frank’s world, just about everyone was a burro of one sort or another.
Years later, when I became much older and wiser, I realized that Frank was probably right all along. The world was pretty much full of burros. A burro is a pack animal, used to shouldering huge piles of weighty obligations. He works hard day after day, thinking about that plate of burritos waiting for him at home. Doesn’t complain much….well, it’s true, an occasional burro is a bit of a whiner, but that’s because, in Frank’s words, “es un burro”. There’s not a hell of a lot of reward in life for a burro, but sometimes you can catch them grinning, thinking about the desert and the stars and kicking up their heels with a big old rusty-bucket “eee-yawww, eee-yaww….”
And sometimes, they actually get there.
That would kinda make me a burro too. In fact, that might kinda sorta make you one as well.