L.A. Times Story on White Memorial Janitor, Jesus Velasquez
A dated but touching piece on White Memorial janitor of 18 years, Jesus Velasquez
Scouring dried blood off the floor of White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights, Velasquez would hear the steel gurneys rattling ominously through the silence. The cadavers forced his wandering mind to confront his own mortality--the inescapable limbo he felt at age 37. It was a drowning feeling that haunted even his dreams: visions of unmopped hallways stretching for blocks and the notion that his monotonous routine would continue even after he died.
With destitution looming, Jesus' sister, Josefina, moved to Los Angeles, where she took a job as a hospital custodian to earn money for the family. Jesus (Velasquez) continued his schooling with the dream of becoming a doctor. His mother deeply wanted him to rise above simple labor, to be more than she and his father.
Years passed. The promotion never came. He was married and divorced within months while in his early 20s. His father died, then his mother. Jesse (Velasquez) managed to get his associate's degree at East Los Angeles College on the side. He stayed with his sister all along and continued sending $100 a month back to brothers and sisters in Durango. For a while, supporting his family gave him a sense of importance that his job alone could not provide.
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