Ida came to America four years ago. Her main reason for coming was to give her 13-year-old son the best education possible. But also, she did not want Perry to meet the wrong kind of people and end up using drugs or joining a gang, or both.
Divorced shortly after Perry's birth, Ida had been a successful entrepreneur in her home country. She had saved a lot of money for their new life in America. Or so she had thought. But two failed business ventures in America had been costly. Had either succeeded, she would have been well off. The second failure was especially painful, because she had known it would leave her with little money.
Her poor English was her downfall. American business people were not patient; they did not want to waste their time trying to figure out what she was trying to say. Equally bad, she couldn't understand their rapid English. She had sadly underestimated how long it would take her to become proficient in English.
Now she was almost broke. Her boyfriend didn't make enough money to support Ida and Perry. She had to go to work. A business executive in her homeland, Ida would try to find work as a waitress in America. "You'll be lucky to make $8 an hour," her boyfriend Tony groused. "What kind of an income is that?
Yes, but you're forgetting about the tips. That's where the big money is," she said, laughing. "I'm not upset about working as a waitress. Any work is honorable. I took my chances, and they didn't pan out. Now I have to go to work to pay the bills.
Well, I don't like it," Tony said.