June 8, 2019
Mexico City, Mexico
Working customer service, discrimination and racism
1 of 5
*To hear more about Frank listen to the playlist above
Lizzie: One thing that I want to hear about that you mentioned in the survey was that you had a chance to go to the White House and you weren't able to. Could you tell me that story?
Frank: Yes. When I was in fifth grade, I always saw these kids that have their patrol flex and I told my counselor that I wanted to be a patrol. They told me that I can join this patrol and they put me on proof. I was doing really well. I had these trips to the Mall of America and one of the scenarios, I remember Ms. _______, it was on my _____ School and she offered me if I wanted to go make an essay because there was a how can you say – there was a program where they said that we can get in contact to go and visit the White House because I wanted to learn a little bit more about the culture.
Frank: So, I make my essay in Spanish. She helped me for around three months to get all of the essay translated to English. She also was helping me making my essay. I remember that it was around 800 words. We had to write out, so I make my effort. She helped me send all the forms and two or three weeks after, I received a letter. It was coming also with the stamp the color gold and because on those times I was not really getting into the English.
Frank: I brought it to her and to see if she can translate it for me and she was telling me, actually she didn't want it to hurt my feelings, so she started telling me in other words that I didn't qualify because there was things missing on the essay, but now that I can understand it, I can see that because of my immigration status I was not able to qualify for the visit to the White House. So I still have the envelope, as a memory, and I have all those papers. Basically with all my information, they were telling me that because my immigration status, I cannot go to the White House.
Lizzie: Just because of your immigration status.
Frank: I remember since that day I decided not to participate in any program because I know that I was not going to be able because of my immigration status so I make my own goals. They were still learning English and get back here to Mexico so I can continue to study because she also told me when I was in junior high - I frequently went to visit her - and she told me that I needed to think about it if I want to continue with the University because the patrol stuff that I was doing, it was going to give me points so I can get into the University, but I wasn't going to be able to get enough points. I needed to pay like a monthly charge and it was going to be a really expensive. So, she offered it to me that we can continue, try to see if we can get any type of help so you can continue studying and also my parents offered me if I wanted came back to Mexico because I wanted to get into the Army, but they told me that if I want to serve to country that I should serve to my country. So that's another reason why I also come back to Mexico.
Lizzie: Did you think about serving in the Army in the U.S. or in Mexico?
Frank: Actually, this get into my mind because my brother when he was on the senior high, he got this paper saying that he wanted to serve but it was just a copy, not the hard copy. My dad just break it off and say if you want to go serve to a country, serve to your country. My brother came on to tell us in 2015 and in 2016 that he get into the Mexico army.
Lizzie: Do you still want to join the army here?
Frank: Actually, I try it four times. I try first for an engineer and because of the culture exam I wasn't able to get in. On the second one. I got into like a backup, but it was for medicine. I wanted to be a surgeon and because of the spaces we have to wait 15 days to see if anyone quits and if it's the case and we still have time, then they get from the reserve and they join, they complete the groups again, but I stay on the seventh space, so I needed seven people more to quit so I could get in to join in. The other two times I tried again, but the first time they told me for the engineer [program] I was over the age that I wasn't able to continue on because I wanted to get into the army to continue studying, but they told me because of the age I was not able to get into that program.
Lizzie: You were too old?
Lizzie: What was the age limit?
Lizzie: You could not be older than 21?
Frank: That's correct.
Frank: So if you're above 21 they have another careers, but you cannot get an engineer. Also, I try it on the same period, I try it for aviation, but because I don’t have a 20/20 [vision] on my eyes I was not able to qualify. On the third one I tried for medicine again, but I was above the age again that was 24 last year.
Lizzie: 24 was the cutoff?
Frank: That's correct.
Lizzie: Wow. A lot of age cutoffs there that they really want young people.
Frank: Yeah. It's because it's a long term career. Once you get out you have to pay the service and you start getting a lot of ranks.
Frank: So I was planning to get a career over there and on the case, my incentive was my brother because he wanted to join the Marines, but once he get here on Mexico, he went to a [paratrooper unit] and basically he was from the Air Army, so I wanted to join the same steps. But I wasn't able to. So I decided to continue with my University and here I am.
Lizzie: So what are your plans for your future with this engineering degree that you're working on?
Frank: With this engineering degree basically, since it's more for communications and electronic, at this moment I'm doing an extra course of programming so I can learn a little another specialty and between my goals, it's either get a good job here that is worth talking about 25,000 per month. If not, I'm planning to make all my migration status to go to Canada.
Lizzie: To Canada?
Frank: Yeah. I was also viewing all their requirements, but they need the degree.
Lizzie: Can you tell me more about why Canada instead of the US?
Frank: Because I was searching for any type of programs that we can go to the US, but as we know, they're always requiring not living in the US before. They also require a visa, which is impossible to get in Mexico.
Lizzie: Impossible. Yep.
Frank: It's really impossible because you need to, why I tell you this because I also try to get visa. You need to give a banking account with more than 50,000 Pesos. Also, that's just for a week that you can only go and that's as a tourist and you have to have a family member or a friend or a relative that gives proof that you're going to that address. We know that most people are scared of providing information to the government.
Frank: With all it's happening with Trump, no one wants to really give the extra step.
Lizzie: Nobody wants to be the sponsor for the visa.
Frank: That's correct. And besides that it could be a program, let's say for example, where I can develop my career over there, that will be awesome. But there is for example on the bajada [lower part] of Canada here they have programs for engineers to go as an outsourcing. To be honest I know that the U.S. dollar compared to the Canada dollar, it's a little cheaper Canada, but it's more than Mexican Pesos. That's why I'm planning to be outsourcing. If I could get a good engineer here, it's better to serve to my country, but if it's a possibility, I will be more than happy to go back to USA.
Lizzie: You had said something in the survey that was interesting that I want to go back to and that you mentioned now about wanting to help your country if you can, to keep the talented people here. Could you talk more about that?
Frank: Yeah. For example, as we know, most of the famous engineers, they were Mexicans. For example, we can talk about the color TV everyone uses on the whole world, but it became from a Mexican. So, I want to mark the history of Mexico and have a special project an invent that could help the whole world. I would like to leave my mark on the history of Mexico and not saying it was a Mexican, I'm sorry for the [inaudible] but it was a Mexican who got development in Canada or the USA and here's the achievement. So that's what I would really like. Also for example, I don't know if you have used the Metro cards?
Frank: It's an invent from the Politecnico and it's something that it's really improving a lot of places here and public transport to make it a lot easier and green ecology for the world. I really want to leave my mark. We have programs, for example, at this moment we're working on a specific top quad for the roofing like…Imperma -- I don't know how to say it.
Lizzie: Like a layer to go on the roof...
Frank: A layer to go on the roof that it's a hundred percent ecologic and we're working in developing on it…It's something that at this moment, as a group on my University, we're working on it, but we hope that we can leave a mark on the green environment that we're trying to make on Mexico. We can say it's a mentality that our University makes on us. I want to continue with that because it's okay if I say on Spanish?
Frank: La technica al servicio de la patria. It means that all the technicians, all the engineers we serve to our country. So I want to continue with that spirit and, yeah, like I was telling you leave my mark here on Mexico.
Lizzie: I like that. Yeah, it's patriotic in a good way to help your country and using your talents.
Frank: Yeah, we're making a lot of other steps for example, we know that you're ahead on the wireless charges, but we were thinking on a wireless electricity, like Nikola Tesla, we have a lot of great minds that we're taking all those ideas and we wanted to improve it. So, there are some projects.
Lizzie: That's very cool. That's very inspiring. I have just one more question. Do you consider yourself Mexican or Mexican and American or both? So, after the time that you spent in the US do you consider a part of yourself to be American? Or only Mexican.
Frank: I will say that I consider myself a Mexican who lived in the U.S.. That is the way I can consider myself because I had the experience, I take the good things that U.S. leave to me for example, the English and then taking all the advantage of it and I just want to keep on my mind all the bad experience that I had over there.
Lizzie: Like what? What were some of the bad experiences?
Frank: For example, that there was a lot of bullying on my school. Either that it was not, we could say, a whole American school. It was like a mix school where there were people from Asia, Thailand, Greece, Nigeria, and us Latinos were from Guatemala and all this stuff. We were on this special group and all my mates from the classroom they were saying that we were the retarded group because we were on a English Learning Skills [program].
Lizzie: Wow. So some kids at school called you the retarded group?
Lizzie: The white kids?
Frank: I don't like the to say that word because it's getting into a little bit of ethnic discrimination, but I will say yeah, the American kids, they were saying that to all of us.
Lizzie: To those of you that were learning English?
Frank: Yeah, and that's why I make my will to go and less than two years to gain or improve my English. I went from seventh grade I was on ELL 1 all the way to Read 180. I remember there was a skill that they had six in one year.
Lizzie: Oh wow. One year. I know that scale. That's very impressive.
Frank: Actually, when I gave my … They were telling me that I just needed to improve a little bit more of my fluency so I can get into more normal classes and also doing all those comments. They were making me a little more impotent because I wanted to have science classes, math classes as normal, and was not getting in matched to it. Also, because of that I talked to my counselor, they put me on construction, science and civics, so I get into a little more in touch, and I can say that was one of my baddest experience. Also, when I was working on delivering the paper, there was customers that were so patriotic that they were even leaving notes… how do you say… saying that there was not delivered their paper.
Lizzie: Like a complaint?
Frank: A complaint, that's correct answer. They were leaving their complaints saying that they don't want a Mexican to deliver their papers and there were homes where we will, as Mexican, we always like to give our best, so there was these parts where we had to walk the whole hallway to leave the paper between the doors and they still leave complaints being racist. Also, our supervisor were like, I'm not going to take it aware of this complaint so I'm going to pay to you, but they are going to still be affecting you.
Lizzie: That's awful. I’m sorry...
Frank: Well, other good things I can tell you is, for example, on Christmas we were leaving the letter wishing to everyone Happy Holidays and there was a lot of letters get into our home because I sent it to the warehouse of the newspaper and they sent it to our home or they give it to us on the newspaper warehouse with gift cards. A lot of compliments and that's a good experience I had. Also, when I went to the zoo for first time, there was a lot of people really trying to get us into the community and not like rejecting us. Also, there was comments that they think that we don't know English and they start saying... Can I say for example?
Lizzie: Yes, you can say.
Frank: Literally they were saying, "Oh, look at this Mexicans. They'll never know what they’re fucking doing here. They should be on a gauge".
Frank: So there was those racist comments. I know that I was not on a Latino community area because Minnesota, there is not a lot of Latinos, but there was a lot of African people and Thailand. They were my friends, instead of being with American people.
Lizzie: Did you feel accepted by the community overall?
Frank: Actually, when I was on _____, it was my elementary school, I feel accepted and they were going to transfer me to ____ Junior High School, it's more for an African American community and so we moved from home and I was going to go to _____, that was an American community and I talked to my counselor and they talked to the district and they make a special [decision] so I can go to a different district that was more for mix communities because I didn't want to go to ____. Yeah basically, that's another bad experience I had.
Lizzie: I'm so sorry. That's really awful. That's fucked up. Excuse my language.
Lizzie: Do you still feel, or did you feel any level of anger towards the country as a whole or towards American people because of how you were treated?
Frank: Actually, no. Why? because I was raised in a different mind. I can say that no matter if they're racist, I don't have any reason to try to treat people wrong. And basically taking that on my mind that's why I decided to make an extra mile for me, for my life, and I decided to start with customer service. We know that most Americans, they don't like to deal with same American people, that's why they started doing outsourcing. I know that I can make a difference with a lot of people. They have a straight mind[set] saying that I don’t want to talk to a Mexican and I don't want to talk to a different people.
Frank: That's not an American, but sometimes we're better customer service that we can provide a better experience. That's why I decided to leave my mark on their minds, giving them a better customer service so they can know that we're not bad, that we can help them and we can be on the same community without being racist. Also, I have bad experience. I can tell you all my job that sometimes they taught us well, if I can say it...
Frank: "I don’t want to fuck with Mexicans so transfer me to an American department".
Lizzie: People say that on the phone?
Frank: Sometimes they say, "I don't trust Mexicans because Mexicans, they're criminals. So I don't want to give any of my personal information”. Even if it's just for payment or just for providing any information, knowing that they are calling their company, we're not calling them. It's basically their information is secure with us and it's not just for being Mexican that I'm going to rob them, but it happens all the time.
Lizzie: It happens all the time?
Frank: Three of ten customers. They'll always do that.
Lizzie: That's quite a bit. That's a lot of customers.
Lizzie: Is that stressful for you?
Frank: It's not stressful. It's more like frustrating because we can help them and it's something so simple because of a closed mind we cannot do our job sometimes and sometimes we do everything good. They like it, we solve their problems, but at the end they just finish with a comment saying "fuck with Mexicans, I don't like this service" and they can switch away…
Lizzie: That's so awful.
Frank: It's something that we have to deal with it on customer service, but we are used to it. We have to have a centered mind, we don't [inaudible] over accelerate with the customer. We always provide a smile, a good customer service, and everything's okay.
Lizzie: You have to be the one to stay calm even when they're being rude to you.
Frank: Yeah. That's customer service.
Lizzie: The customer is always right. Isn't that what they say?
Frank: Yeah. But even if they're not, they're always right.
Lizzie: Yeah. Even if they're a jerk. As we start wrapping up here, is there anything else that you feel like you haven't gotten the chance to say about your experience as a migrant going to the U.S. coming back? Anything you want us to understand about you?
Frank: I wish that they can be a little bit more easy so we can have a status that doesn't get us into illegal stuff.
Frank: For example, being crossing as an immigrant instead of crossing on the flight because it could help them also to get more in more income instead of just paying a [coyote] so they can cross us.
Lizzie: Yeah. So we need some immigration reform to fix the system.
Frank: A little.
Lizzie: I agree. I really, really appreciate you coming in and talking and being so honest about your experiences and I know some of it's uncomfortable to talk about.
Frank: It's something that we need sometimes to just throw it out and not keep it inside.
Frank: It's good because I see that you're from over there, so I always know that I can talk to someone and tell them how I feel because sometimes they say "fuck off, I don't care". And on this case you are taking the time to listen to us, so it's pretty nice.
Lizzie: That's our goal to hear from you in your own words and then to trying to figure out how to get other people, other Americans to have compassion too and to understand.
Frank: I will not say compassion because we're not searching for compassion, what we are searching is just to be treated as well.
Lizzie: As equals.
Frank: As equal because compassion you are feeling bad.
Lizzie: When I say compassion, I don't mean feeling bad, but understanding.
Frank: Understanding, it's a better word, yeah. Anything else?
Lizzie: That is all.