When we got to L.A. (by way of Las Vegas) we had very little money left, so we found a cheap apartment and got busy looking for work. Boy did I land some TERRIBLE jobs… I was working with an employment agency, but I started at the bottom – selling magazines door to door. My next equally awful job was at a quilting factory in East L.A. I had to make sure the people working the quilting lines had the materials they needed. My shift was 4:00 pm – midnight, and I had to take a bus to and from work (the Fairlane had gone kaput shortly after we arrived in L.A.).

After a few weeks at the quilting factory, I was finally going to receive my first paycheck! This was a major event because things were pretty grim by this time – we had totally run out of money. On that particular day, I didn’t even have enough to buy a bus ticket to work. I needed to make something to eat for my evening shift, so I opened a can of tuna and put it on two of the last remaining slices of bread. While I did this, I was trying to figure out how to get enough money (about 30 cents) to buy a bus ticket. An idea came to me. I put the empty tuna can in a paper sack and headed to the corner grocery store. I told the manager that the tuna was spoiled – that it was so foul smelling I had to dump it down the sink and rinse the can before I could even bring it back to get a refund. He believed me, and I got just enough to cover my bus ticket to work and back.

Sometimes you have to do what you have to do in life. That was one of those moments. I'm not proud of it, but that can of tuna kept me on track. Things got better after that. I worked at a Hilton for a while, delivering room service to the hotel guests (I have some VERY interesting stories from that job…). Then I started working for a shipping company at the port, helping in the office. When they found out I could speak Spanish AND English fluently, they promoted me to a Booking Agent, but that’s a story for another time. For now, suffice it to say that my dad did me a favor. I worked hard, wasn't too proud, was willing to take any job offered and finally began to move up the economic ladder (very slowly at first, I’ll admit). Thank you, dad.