A Bump in the Road

a young man silhouetted against an open window

Alejandro’s family took a huge financial hit when American Airlines declared bankruptcy in the early 2010s. The family worked together to make it through.




Alejandro: My story was, if you want me to start from the very beginning, I’ll tell you that…

You know, I was a very active student, had a basic life, really. We were middle, middle class; I mean, we were average but sometimes we were able to go out to, like the movies or at least, like, buy a new TV or gaming console or something. So among, like, 2014 or 2013, around that time, American Airlines declared bankruptcy, which was where my dad had been working for, like, 30 years.

Narrator: At first, Alejandro’s family was not worried about the layoffs, but then they learned that his dad would be making a lot less money. His mom didn’t work at the time, either.

A: She was more, like, the stay-at-home mom. However, you know, at this time, a lot of our equipment started breaking. The refrigerator just broke; so the cooling system in our refrigerator just broke, so we had to get a new refrigerator. We didn’t have the money for it, so we had to move all of our stuff into, like, the freezer. The laundry and the dryer, like for the past few years before, the vent was, like, breaking, so we had to use the laundromat after that.

N: The laundromat was 30 minutes away. But during this time, both of his parents’ cars weren’t working. Some days, Alejandro couldn’t even get to school, or he asked his neighbors and friends if they could take him to school. And this went on for a long time. But for in order for his family to fix the situation, his…

A: Dad had to declare bankruptcy so we could be able to pay off the mortgage, and we were able to finally save some money to fix all of the appliances, so slowly and steadily over like, 3 or 4 years, we were able to finally get out of poverty, and now we’re currently in a good spot.

N: In the beginning, Alejandro was an average student, but during this rough time in his life, it inspired him to do better.

A: I did start to study more, and I worked harder. I actually started going to, like, the honor roll, which I never had happen to me when I was a kid. And then, eventually, I got into advanced classes.

N: Alejandro got his Associate’s Degree going through a dual enrollment program in his high school, which paid off a few years of college. He also has the opportunity to get a job in his field, which will help him pay off his schooling in a year.

* * *

N: Now hearing your whole story, what is one thing that you want people to take away from this story?

A: One thing that I want people to take away from this story is that even if anything bad happens to you, or if you’re in the worst day of your life, or you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, there’s always people who are worse off than you. So, when all that happened, my dad would always tell me, “aguantete un mes mas” which means, “endure for another month.” Even though we’re all suffering, my parents were working harder, so as long as we had nothing else, we had each other. There’s other people in the world that were worse than us; they didn’t even have a house or have a family. So as long as you have a motive and passion, you can always overcome anything.