Jesus and Mercedes Sandoval-Velasquez are a brother and sister team who struggle to make a living in Fort Collins. Recent immigrants from Jalisco, Mexico, the two work as a landscaper and housecleaner respectively. Driving a seventh-hand 1998 Ford pickup, financed from a tote-the-note lot, the working-class duo immediately look out of place in the blue-blooded Fort Collins neighborhood known as Old Town West, where homes are known to sell for seven figures. For all the obvious exclusivity of Old Town West, Jesus and Mercedes are puzzled to find a small, but visible placard that reads “No matter where you are from, we are glad you’re our neighbor.” in Spanish, English and Arabic.
Focopolitan Tribune reporter Ludwig Schnee caught up with the duo while riding his bicycle and asked each about their reaction to the politically correct sign, and got the usual, “Yo no hablo ingles.” Fortunately for us at the Trib, Schnee is fluent in Spanglish, intelligible to all parties in the conversation.
Jesus did little to hide his annoyance at the supposed welcome: “The only Spanish-speakers this welcomes are the $10-an-hour Mexicans that have to weed-whack around these pinche signs and clean your houses. We are about as far from being your neighbors as can be, in a city like Fort Collins. Mercedes added, “We’re not neighbors! We don’t see these signs at the trailer park where we live at! Our whole family works to rent the trailer where we, mani, papi, my three brothers and sisters, our six nieces and nephews and a fat, psycho Chihuahua live in.” She added, “This sign don’t do nothing for nobody except the people who put it on their lawn. They put it there to feel good about themselves. The only Latinos who lives (sic) here are that pinche Brazilian family two blocks that way, and they don’t even speak Spanish! The husband is like and executive at Swift or some shit like that…” Jesus interjected, “Armando, our nephew works there… fucking rich assholes. Okay, we gotta work now.” Applying earplugs and turning on his weed whacker, Jesus gets to work trimming the edges of the Mountain Avenue home’s front lawn, releasing a smell of fresh-cut grass and gas fumes.
The middle-aged couple who lives in the home where Jesus and Mercedes work were not available to be interviewed, but another Mountain Avenue couple, who also display the same sign on their lawn granted our reporter an interview. “This sign is more than a symbol of our inclusiveness and the neighborly love we feel towards the marginalized and the misunderstood. It’s a symbol of our resistance to the wave of bigotry that has taken over our country over the last six months or so. Kind of like the Sanctuary Restaurant movement, you’ve heard of that, right?”
His wife spoke up, “We’re also thinking of buying it as a welcome mat for our door and have a matching set. We just hope it’s not made in China or some sweatshop in India.”