Crossing the Border With(out) Two Missing Persons

The Texas Story Project.


“Damn Mexicans!” echoed through the Starbucks. Conversation stopped on a dime. I turned around and there he was: the man responsible for such a vulgar statement. He approached me and as his lips slowly curled up into a smile, he opened his arms up about as far as they would go and gave me a hug. “What’s going on, mijo?” he asked. Yes, this mildly inappropriate man was, in fact, my father, the one and only Andres Torres. 

We sat down at the Starbucks without ordering anything (neither of us was familiar enough with the hipster vernacular to be comfortable ordering something at Starbucks) and very briefly went over the typical “How is college?” and “Got a girlfriend?” questions. Then, without me even having to ask, he began with his story. And although it was a story I have heard many times, he told it like I was someone he had never met and wanted to make laugh.

“So, as you know,” he starts, “we were crossing back and forth from Mexico quite often.” This was true. He and his family had developed a routine over the years and, because there were eight children and two parents, sticking to this routine was important in making sure everyone was accounted for. They crossed at the same spot at the border and always stopped at the same gas station to get insurance and fill up the gas tank of their green station wagon. “This one time, though,” he continues, “Little Goly* asked my sister, Malen, to make sure everyone was in the car after we left. She looked around and said ‘Mom, Cruz isn’t in the car.’ ‘What do you mean Cruz isn’t in the car?’ She said again, ‘Mom, Cruz isn’t in the car. He’s not here.’ Little Goly and Big Goly looked at each other, looked back, then realized they had forgotten my brother, Cruz, at the gas station.

“So, we turned the car around and head back to the gas station. When we pulled in to the parking lot, sure enough, there’s my brother Cruz, sitting on the curb with a Coca-Cola can in his hand. The only thing is,” he says while fighting laughter, “it wasn’t just Cruz. My other brother, Lupín, was sitting right next to him!” And my father completely loses it. Me and him both are in the middle of all of these young adults typing away on their computers with tears in our eyes, hardly able to breathe because of the laughter. 

Thankfully, though, those were the only two that had been forgotten at the gas station. Now, any time someone new is brought around the family for the holidays, they get to sit through it and the rest of the family gets to experience the story stray farther and farther away from the truth.

Growing up in Magnolia, a small suburban area in Houston, there were many routes Andres could have taken that would have ended with him dead or in jail. Instead, he focused on his schoolwork and played baseball and football. These interests allowed him to get a college education at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, then to transfer to the University of Houston. There, he received everything he needed to become a teacher and eventually work his way up to the head baseball coach of Alief Hastings High School. 

Andres Torres represents everything Texas stands for. His integrity and dedication in school transferred to his consistency and passion for his career which then provides the foundation for his family. He never hesitates to put his children first and has done nothing but support his family in every way he can. Whether it be quitting his coaching football job to spend more time at his kids’ baseball games or driving 25 minutes at 12:00 AM to pick up his oldest son from his first job, nothing screams Texan pride more than a family man who just wants to laugh and coach baseball.

Jackson Ruiz was born and raised in the great city of Houston, Texas. At the age of seventeen, he graduated high school ahead of his class and immediately enrolled in classes at St. Mary’s University. He is currently pursuing a major in history while also taking the prerequisite courses for medical school.

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