Gloria has come a long way since the early years when she struggled to feel as if she belonged poolside with us, much less in the pool. Her first employer here, Sra. Patricia, made a point of treating Gloria like a servant, and would never have tolerated Gloria’s presence where hotel guests and villa owners congregate.
As you can see here, Gloria is normally very comfortable in the pool. But that old social class distinction reared its head — a surprise to her — while we were having lunch and Sr. Vallarino, the rich guy who is head of the wealthy group that owns the entire complex, arrived. She became instantly uncomfortable, which she verbalized. I was glad to know, so we could talk about it. I asked her what she thought might happen. She said she was afraid he might come over to our table and tell her she didn’t belong, to go back with the servants. She said that would make her ashamed.
I said if he did that I’d punch him in the nose. My pretend fierceness made her laugh, and she recovered her equilibrium.
But look how deep that learned sense of social class inferiority goes, and how even after all this time, the fear of being shamed is there to be awakened.