Crime and Dirty Socks

January 18, 2011
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Dirt, scattered clothes and mean streets. These are some elements that constitute the “dirty jobs” in El Salvador. Vigilantes (guards) and muchachas (maids) are two of the most recognized tasks in the Salvadorian society. Many people are not appreciative of their services, but these jobs are important and beneficial for us. One job looks after the organization of the home and the care of the children and the other one looks after the safety of our society by risking lives. Guards and maids have a hard time in their jobs, but it is what they have to do to survive.
Facing the wrath of both delinquents and disorganized people can be tiring at some point. Just ask some of the most underappreciated types of workers in El Salvador: vigilantes and muchachas. The nerve-wracking tasks usually take their origin behind those people who desire to escalate into the highest positions in the social classes of El Salvador.
People from the lowest classes grow up usually in ‘cantones”or poor neighborhoods located outside cities. They aspire for dreams of greatness, just like any human being would, but in El Salvador, probabilities of moving up in the social classes are very low. The rate of unemployment in El Salvador (2007-2009) has been of 6%. A 30- year old woman called Sandra who works as a maid and a vigilante, Don Avilio, agrees that moving up into a better job hasn’t been easy.
“Things are very hard. You have to look out for yourself sometimes and things don’t come as easily as you may think, one must be aware of the dangers of everything,” said Sandra.
“Work is tiring at some point, but you got to do what you got to do,” said Don Avilio.
People in the ‘campo” or outside the cities, in average, study until ninth grade or even less before going to work. Getting little chance to overcome the circumstances, they are forced to work on tasks that provide little income.
“When I lived there [campo], food and things were supplied although the money was never enough for bigger things like education,” mentioned Sandra.
Neighborhoods and some institutions hire vigilantes for a low wage of $20 per month in some instances. A low wage between the amounts of $10 and $15 is given to maids, depending on the days or hours they clean the house. Not even for the hard work done in an average maid’s or vigilante’s life, will she/he ever earn a salary that supports their family entirely in all aspects. Though seemingly unfair, that is what happens in almost all cases. The lack of resources in El Salvador causes the elite class Salvadorians to have a higher probability of keeping jobs in prestigious companies. The sumptuousness is sometimes reserved for only those who can afford it. Effort and value for work are left aside in most cases where vigilantes may die because of shootings or where maids may be prone to abuse. The work is, to say the least, difficult but nevertheless has to be performed by someone.
It is quite ironic how they are trusted with the lives of other people (i.e: babysitting, protecting and giving security) and are getting paid little money whilst sometimes being mistreated.
“Sometimes people don’t treat you exactly good, but you have to put up with it because you have no alternative,” responded Sandra to the issue.
“Staying out in the night watching everything is very tiring,” said Don Avilio.
Nonetheless, some people want to overcome the obstacles of being poor, by sometimes studying at nights in order to reach a higher academic level. Due to their age, most are not accepted into other jobs and at the end, all work that is performed ends up being another futile attempt to get unstuck in the social classes. Yet still the pregnancy rates in teenagers in El Salvador are sometimes the cause for young ladies to resort to jobs like these. The lack of resources and knowledge about the topic cause the “catastrophic” consequences for their life.
“Well, it is sometimes true. I know about two friends of mine which had to leave school and come to San Salvador because of pregnancy,” said Sandra.
Difficulties faced include leaving the jobs, sometimes permanently.
“My best friend had a job near mine, but had to leave it as soon as she got pregnant because one can no longer do things like make beds or so without getting harmed or having difficulties that interfered with her bosses,” said Sandra.
Most facts of life in El Salvador don’t accommodate a comfortable lifestyle for most people, who despite the hardwork are prone to end up roaming the streets searching for additional jobs to earn more money. The time and money dedicated to move up in El Salvador’s economy get wasted in nothing but miserable attempts to move forward. As the jobs, crisis and other obstacles start to get in a worsening state most Salvadorians end up in the positions of maids or vigilantes, people whose aspirations end up in deterred dreams because of unfairness in their social status. El Salvador is what you call a tough place to live if you are born in the wrong time or circumstances, it is hard to move up and easy to move down but nevertheless people keep trying.

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