To get to the house of “Grillo” you have to go through Villa Montoro, El Paligüe and Barrio Oculto. They are poor neighborhoods and settlements that surround La Plata. Since “Grillo” is a baker, he gets up at 4:30 in the morning. For him it is early, but for the boys and girls in that area who do not study or work, the day is not over yet.
They’re still stuck in the day before, shortly after finishing a long night. The gatherings on the corners are already disarming and the motorcycles go by at full speed with boys and girls going from one side to the other trying to stretch out the night of partying. Others, those who “remained”, wait sitting on the sidewalk for the alcohol to dilute a little more in the blood to start the withdrawal.
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“Grillo” tells me that in recent years the drug and alcohol problem has worsened enormously and has taken the lives of many there. Boys and girls die of overdoses, in accidents or commit suicide. An addict can easily lose his mind when the drug is gone. It is the silent genocide of an entire generation. Without a future and without hope, it is difficult to project and the kids risk everything in a fast-paced and meaningless present.
“Grillo” works all day at the bakery and when he returns it is night again. On the return trip to his house we see boys on the street, but they are different from those who were there at dawn. these look like zombie: It’s time for paco addicts. They are easy to identify: they have empty eyes and walk erratically along the edge of the sidewalk. You have to be careful not to step on them.
“Grillo” (although no one in the neighborhood knows it) is called Luis Ferrer. His name and surname was forgotten in his Birth Certificate. But everyone in the neighborhood knows Grillo and if there is a problem they know they can count on him. Like when took the son of a friend (who suffered from a recurring and serious addiction) to work with him because dad didn’t know what else to do anymore. There are dozens of those stories.
He also gave them his first job in the bakery for many kids in the neighborhood. Some who stayed halfway through high school. Others who finished but couldn’t get a job. If those guys hadn’t gotten to work, it’s very likely that they would have ended up on the streets, victims of bad meetings.
But work saved them. In the bakeries of La Plata and its suburbs there are many kids who learned to make bread with “Grillo”. There are many master bakers”made in ‘Cricket’” and that is a source of pride for him. It is not for less.
After all, it is a story that he knows very well, having lived it firsthand. As a boy, “Cricket” was very poor and at the age of 12 he cartoned like an adult. Thirty-odd years ago that was not as common as it is today, but “Cricket” is not common at all either: that boy gained the trust of the neighborhood and as soon as he could, he jumped from the street to the bakery. And from there he never moved again.
When living conditions are extreme, the future of a kid can be defined at age 12. In other neighborhoods, kids have more chances and if they mess up, they have revenge. not here, and your fate may be sealed and with few possibilities of change at 15 or 16 years of age. The most extreme example occurs in paco consumers. It is such a nefarious drug that it takes your life in a few months.
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That key moment, hinge, was presented to “Grillo” when he was 12 or 13 years old. And the fuse that twisted her destiny is a minimal story. One afternoon when she stopped by the bakery to ask for the day’s leftovers, “Cricket” grabbed a broom and swept the sidewalk. The next day and the next she repeated the task. She continued until the baker offered her a job, but not to clean but to learn how to make bread.. From that moment on, “Grillo” knew what he wanted and saw a future for the first time. Within a few years he was already a Master Baker and years later he bought the bakery.
Being a baker is hard: because of the hours, because of the heat, because of the energy that must be put into it.
That boy who cartoned at the age of 12 knows (more than anyone) what bread means. He went from asking to doing it; she went from hungry to feeding a neighborhood. Isn’t that the “meritocracy” so questioned by official politicians? They fear the merit of work because (as we can see in this life story), it gives us freedom.
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