Andres, who drove a junk truck for a while to earn money to open the Italian restaurant he named for his wife, has been telling me about the restaurant business, which has been rough in the current economy.
I make a lot of mistakes. I didn’t know how to work in the advertising; I had to learn how to advertise. I had to learn how to do my menus. I had to learn how to be in the Internet. Now I’m in the Internet and I have my own webpage. So, I mean, think I’m gonna make it. I think it is going to be OK. They say it takes a little time.
Right now everybody is—a lot of people are so frightened. I go to Sam’s Club the other day, and they say I owe them two thousand dollars. I thought it was fifteen hundred, sixteen hundred dollars, and I called them when I saw the bill. I was paying I think 24 percent. I called them, and I say, Look, I am in trouble. Go down to zero percent and I’m going to pay you. Please, go down to zero percent for at least six months and let me catch up. No, no, you have to pay because you’re late. I say, Look, That’s why I’m telling you I’m late and I don’t have the money today. I’m in the store right now. I’m at the customer service desk. I’m gonna shop till that thing is full, and I’m not going to pay you. Help me out.
They didn’t want to do it. OK, fine. I take my big car, I go shop, fill it up, come back. I say, Look, I finished shopping. I have 28 dollars left on my credit card, and I’m going to stop in the gas station to fill it up 28 dollars. So we are clear, I’m not going to pay you. Now they got me in collection and all kinds of things. So, I mean, What you gonna do? I know I’m gonna find a way to pay them, but right now the most important thing is getting the kids through high school. Gordon Tech is almost two thousand dollars a month, and the other two go to a Catholic school and they want us to pay a hundred fifty dollars a month.
Watch: One more year when you come over here, I’m gonna be more busy. Maybe I have more servers, two cooks, more stuff. I’m gonna have more customers. I’m going to finish with the City of Chicago. . . .
Chicago is crazy. They give you a lot of hard time. People like me, they give a lot of hard time. You have to go through a lot of red tape when you’re more poor, that’s the reality. Big business, they don’t go through a lot. It’s very easy for them, they can get anything they want.
Like in my job, when the health department show up over there, they call them first, and say which day they’re gonna be there, so they can clean everything. Here they show up any moment. They don’t give you no time at all. You have to be on your best behavior all the time [laughs], because the guy can walk in any time and get his head in there. And if you have one thing wrong in the freezer, that is not supposed to be 45, or 30 something below . . . That’s the difficulty for us. We don’t have the money to pay the tax guy, an accountant. We try to do it ourselves, to save the fifty bucks to pay the electric or the gas. We turn on the air conditioning only when there’s customers.
I think this is one of the worst cities when it comes to helping out people like me.