Hector Padilla is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who arrived in Teton County about ten years ago with his wife Dolorita and their two children. At Julie’s conservation event that opened this chapter, Hector was working in one of the four garages attached to the house, mostly cooking hors d’oeuvres and serving drinks. He typically works twelve hours each day, six days a week, laying brick for a construction company that specializes in elaborate homes, and then, to help make ends meet, he picks up a few more hours at night doing catering jobs for folks like Julie. Dolorita also works for Julie and a few other well-to-do families, cleaning and doing domestic odds and ends around their homes, as well as helping out with childcare. Between the two of them, they just barely cover rent for the small trailer they share with two other families, where they all take turns sleeping on the bed, couch, or floor.
[...] The previous month, the Padillas were unexpectedly and immediately evicted from their trailer to clear the way for a new upscale development called “Nature’s Escape.”11 Despite pleading with the developers for more time, they were forced out in two weeks. Unable to find affordable housing in town, they were pushed forty-five minutes away into Idaho, on the other side of the treacherous Teton Pass, where a good majority of the working poor now live. Each day, both Hector and Dolorita make the dangerous and sometimes even deadly drive to work and back, up and over the steep 8,431-foot mountain pass. Living on razor-thin margins, Hector says he doesn’t have time to bemoan setbacks that seem to be more frequent—instead, he mostly keeps his head down and focuses on his work and his family. He expresses gratitude to people like Julie who provide him with a second job.