!Ask a Mexican!

Mark Dancey illustration

Dear Mexican,

Why do Mexicans steal fruit from trees that aren't theirs? At my job a tree hangs over the wall, and they climb for the fruit.

With a Chiquita Banana Between His Legs

Dear Gabacho,

Nothing—not walls, the brutal sun, or lack of bathroom breaks and potable water—will stop a Mexican from picking fruits and vegetables. It's Pavlovian, Chiquita Banana: if a Mexican sees an apple, they climb the tree and pick it. Strawberries? Kneel down and pull. What you should be concerned about is the looming crop crisis predicted in the Dec. 5 business section of the Los Angeles Times. A story that day reported that Western Growers, an Irvine-based trade group whose members grow 90 percent of the nation's winter crops, will only fill half of the 50,000 field hand positions they need this season thanks to our country's tightening immigration policies. "Come January, we could see lettuce rotting in the fields because there will be no one to pick it," one El Centro grower fretted to Timesreporter Jerry Hirsch. So make sure to thank the next Mexican who steals lemons or potatoes from your yard, Chiquita Banana: the fruit or vegetable that Mexican steals means one less illegal immigrant big business needs.

Dear Mexican,

Why have Mexicans traded in their 1960s Impalas and 1970s Monte Carlos for 2000s Toyotas? Does "Toyota" mean something in Spanish, or is it symbolism like the Aztec Thunderbird emblem on those Ford T-birds you guys no longer drive?

Lowriders Unite in Anaheim

Dear Gabacho,

You're mixing up your brownies. It's the cholo cousins of Mexicans, Chicanos, who own tricked-out Monte Carlos and Impalas. You're right to note, however, that Mexicans are loco over Toyotas. According to automotive research company R.L. Polk & Co., the number of Latinos who registered Toyotas increased 45 percent from 2000 to 2004, while the total vehicle registration figures amongst Latinos for other brands during that same period grew by a mere 15 percent. And Toyota was the top seller amongst Latinos during the first quarter of 2004. Industry watchers give much of the credit to Steve Jett, Toyota's national truck advertising and event promotions manager, who aggressively pushed for such inventive Mexican-themed ad campaigns as a commercial where a soccer goalie protected a truck from oncoming soccer balls. But the real explanation is that Toyota offers eight types of trucks, vans and SUVs, second only to Ford amongst the major auto makers. Toyota understands that Mexicans need big vehicles to ferry around the familia, to load up with tools, or just to roll down to Mexico and show off their wealth. And, yes, Lowriders Unite, Toyota means something in Spanish: "cheap, efficient and not gabacho-made."

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at garellano@ocweekly.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym,por favor, or we'll make one up for you!

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