In the USA in 1986 there were a crazy amount of choices of vehicles to buy. In Guayaquil, Ecuador there was one and only one. The locally made Jeep Trooper. Any thing else had to be imported and came with a 400% tariff, enough of a financial hit to encourage buyers to only buy locally.
But we weren't buyers. We were moving to Guayaquil from Curacao for Gary's job. Henceforth and repeatedly known in the country as El Señor, Gary was to take the reigns of the company's management. Looking at the over-sized, expensively imported red Ford Econoline vehicle that came with his new position, he considered that since the money had already been spent, maybe he and I could share the vehicle. After all, the job also came with a company chauffeur.
Now before imagining a spiffy uniformed character like in Downtown Abbey, let me describe Reynaldo. He was a short-heavy-set, moon-faced man of remarkable equanimity. No matter the situation, he would placidly respond, "Si, Señor" or "Si, Señora".
So as we settled in, the pattern began. El Señor would drive himself to the office located in a small shopping mall about 10 minutes away. At that point, Reynaldo would hand the keys over to Reynaldo to come back to our home. Usually Reynaldo was my go-fer, as in go for this or that. Though some days he'd spend the day washing and rewashing the vehicle, others he'd run errands for the company. If he was unavailable for me, I'd hitch a ride with a friend, something I always was able to do.
Since the van was so monstrously big, I purposely never paid too much attention to Reynaldo's driving. At least I tried not to. For what I had seen of his driving skills were that he leaned his face into the windshield, squinted over his nose to ride the bumper of the car in front of him. I'd learned abroad to ignore what cannot be changed. At least he was incredibly honest.
Then one day it hit me. Reynaldo drives our children.
"Ah, has Reynaldo ever had his eyes tested?"
On reviewing his personnel file, Gary found that no, he had never had his eyes checked. So the company doctor examined Reynaldo and found that yes, he did need glasses. And not only glasses, but Coke-bottle thick lens glasses. And he needed those but bifocal glasses too. The poor man wasn't exactly legally blind, but his vision was in need of some serious correction.
So the company paid for Reynaldo's new bifocal glasses, but he couldn't adjust to them. Many people can't. So eventually the company gave him a pair of non-bifocal driving glasses, to allow him to keep his chauffeur job. Yes, I felt guilty for having his eyes checked, but hey, this was about our kids.
Years after leaving Ecuador, we heard that Reynaldo's vision had worsened. Sad news given this led to his being demoted to another position. I could see his calm face before me accepting whatever came his way.
And I remembered the afternoon that El Señor calmly told Reynaldo to drive him to the dentist and by the way--as of tomorrow, he was fired.
"Si, Señor," the always calm Reynaldo responded.
"It was a joke Reynaldo", the El Señor interjected, not wanting to upset the man.