By Nora Vasconcelos
James leaned his head towards the sliding doors of the subway wagon he was traveling on.
It was only then when he noticed a man wearing a Santa Claus suit. This made him feel worst.
Being fired hadn’t been bad enough. The company had waited until the last minute, on Christmas day, to let him know that he was no longer an employee of Sweets & Snacks.
“Don’t take it personal, Jimmie. With all these people going on a diet, and the new laws and taxes discouraging people from buying products like ours, we have to downsize the company if we want to give enough money to our Research and Development department, so they can come up with new sweets and snacks that fit into these new trends. Besides, you had mentioned that you wanted to take some time off to spend it with your family. Look at this as an opportunity to make it up to them.”
James knew they were right, but he just couldn’t understand how he was the only one chosen to go. He tought things were going okay, more than okay!
He had put on many extra hours all the year, getting the financial department in working order, after the previous manager had left the company with a self-paid ‘bonus’.
With nobody noticing it, 8,000 dollars had ‘disappeared’ from the petty cash box. It was only until James started working in the company, 12 months ago that, little by little, he put together all the pieces of the puzzle, noticing the frecuent visits the manager made to the cash area, with silly excuses such as a parking fine, when everybody new he walked from his apartment to the office, or those tickets for takeaway orders at late hours, when no pizza nor chinese packages were anywhere to be seen the following morning.
One day, in December last year, James arrived to the office thinking it’d be business as usual, until he saw the manager going out of the director’s office, ushered by two very tall and strong police officers. On his way out, he looked at James and yield at him ‘you’ll pay for this, Jimmie. I swear to it.’
Next thing he knew, he was the new manager. The big boss had offered him a nice pay raise and an office with a magnificent view of the new fashionable tall buildings in the city.
Then, his job became his whole life, and his office, his new home. James worked over Christmas and New Year’s. He also missed all the birthays and school events of his three kids, and his wife got tired of listening to him saying ‘I’ll make it up to you.’
Twelve months later, when the financial deparment was operating under a new set of standards and procedures, and the company had recovered not only the money stolen by the previous manager, but had got a very nice profit, despite the new trends in the market, James thought that he’d finally have time to spend with his family, and with his Christmas bonus he would take his wife on a wonderful trip around Europe, all the main shopping malls included.
It was then when all went wrong. All of a sudden he found himself without a job, leaving the building with his dreams broken and a silly check that hardly covered a month of his salary. ‘This are tough times, Jimmie,’ his ex-boss’ words resounded in his head.
‘Luckily’ he’d been allowed to take his things with him, all awkwardly positioned inside a cardboard box that the day before had contained some of the monthly supplies of paper for the copy machine.
An ordinary letter of recommendetion was part of the stuff he had filled the box with, along with several photos of his wife and kids, and some brochures that a travel agent had given to him a few days before, with all sort of European tours.
Of course, he had to return the company car; so, now, he was riding the subway. And here he was, with his head leaning on the sliding doors, watching the man disguised as Santa Claus.
How was he going to tell his wife and kids that he had been fired?, he wondered.
He took his sight apart from Santa, and looked intensely toward the railway. All inside the tunnel was dark. The only light that he could see came from the train.
Then a strange thought crossed his mind …what if? He shivered.
He turned his face back and saw Santa playing with a little girl, they both were laughing. Memories of the happy times with his family took over his mind. Then, that somber idea crossed his mind again …what if?
He contemplated the idea for a little longer this time. After all, he’d become a stranger now, his family might as well be better without him. At least they would have the insurance money.
Then, the unexpected happened. The sliding doors opened when the train was traveling at a high speed between two stations.
James was expelled of the wagon with such violence that not even strong and magical Santa could hold onto his legs on his efforts to bring him back into the train.
While flying away towards the immense oscurity of the tunnel, people on the train could listen to James calling out for help, screaming with his voice full of terror: I don’t want to die!
* * *
To be continued next week 🙂
(You can read the second part here)
By Nora Vasconcelos
In the second half of the 19th century, José María Velasco enchanted the world with his paintings in which he depicted with precise detail the landscapes of the Valley of México and the outskirts of the Mexican capital.
His studies at the San Carlos Academy, under the guidance of the Italian artist Eugenio Landesio, his deep interest in science, and his encounter with the French Impressionist, combined in a way that he was able to bring alive colourful scenes of the Mexican Landscape.
Velasco did that with such detail that many of his paintings have been the base for the study of the geography and botanic that existed in central México before buildings and houses cover this territory.
His profound love and observation of his country are something that it’s admired up to these days.
His art is just one of the many wonderful things Made in México.
As it is its history and culture, which have been recognized by Unesco. Nowadays, México has the largest number of World Heritage Sites in the Americas, and it’s placed seventh in the world. Part of this list includes the archaeological zones of Chichen Itza, Palenque, El Tajin and Teotihuacan, as well as the city centres of Mexico city, Guanajuato and Morelia.
Modern architects such as Luis Barragán, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Ricardo Legorreta and Teodoro González de León contributed to design the new capital city, bringing strong firm colours to structures that are easily identifiable around the world as Mexican design. Along them, painters such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and writers like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Carlos Fuentes y Octavio Paz, have gotten high recognition around the world.
Unesco has also designated Mexican cuisine as ‘intangible cultural heritage’. And if course it impossible not to mention the production of Tequila and Mezcal, coveted all around the world. Guacamole and great coffee, are also Made in México.
So, as José María Velasco did in his time, nowadays we can admire México for all its greatness, having in mind that the same as bad things happen in this country, they happen in any other country, and México is a place full of beauty and hardworking people proud of their heritage.
By Nora Vasconcelos
Weekends in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, are extraordinary. This colorful city, located in the State of Guanajuato, has achieved international recognition thanks to its beautiful architecture and quiet life that inspires artists from all around the world and gives a peaceful haven to foreign retirees who have made of this place their home away from home.
But when Saturdays and Sundays come, many visitors come along to join the creative and entertaining spirit that floods the city in a way that is not easy to find anywhere else.
This unique place is also a very demanded venue for weddings, so national and international couples who have fallen in love with San Miguel, book months (many months) in advance a place for their ceremony which, unlike any others, some times includes the religious ceremony at the magnificent San Miguel de Allende Parish, as well as a vibrant display of arts, crafts and traditions.
With not many people expecting it, a local band starts playing music, and two very tall dolls, depicting the bride and the groom, appear in the main plaza, causing the surprise and admiration of everybody around.
Then, the two figures approach the Parish dancing in a way that make easy for the people watching understand the story they want to tell with their dances.
Discretely, they look at each other before entering the atrium of the church, like stealing a mischievous glance that shows the loving complicity of the couple.
Then, they dance all their way to the main entrance , facing the public that stands at each side of the atrium with amazement and enjoyment.
Before the enter the parish, the couple give one last glance to their audience, taking care of not facing each other.
Minutes later, when some more dances have taken place, the happy newly weds finally get together, face to face, to start their new life as husband and wife, with all the cheers of the people who have enjoy a unique event, right before the “big event”, that is the actual wedding.
By Nora Vasconcelos
Mexico city is a place where street art has found an immense canvas. Very often, people who live here, as well as tourists, get surprise with unexpected pieces that bring a nice variation to the everyday routine.
This time, an art installation known as Ball Parade can be observed along a business and touristic corridor of the Mexican capital. It presents a series of football balls with innovative designs, some of the used to promote peace, a better world for the children, and some others to honor the history of famous Mexican teams and players.
The exhibition comes in a fantastic time when it’s all about football in two continents, with the Copa America and the Euro Cup being played at the same time in the USA and France.
The curvy art pieces will remain along Reforma avenue until July 23rd, after that it will travel around Mexico, and, probably, abroad.