A few years go, the New York Times ran an article on my neighborhood. It was about the men who hang out in front of bodegas all day. They are there in the morning when I leave for work and are there when I return home.
The Times interviewed some of these men. They came here for opportunities, but none really materialized. Most of these men have a limited education. The jobs that were offered, were, as they confided, beneath them. Their wives worked. Most as secretaries and cleaning women. They are given a few dollars every day by their wives to spend. Most spend the money on beer, playing dominoes or cards, eating chicken and rice.
If these couples have children who were born here, they receive monthly government checks to make ends meet. They get city services. When one has two or more children, it can quickly add up. The men feel that they do not have to look for a job at all. What money they can save, they send back home to the Dominican Republic for retirement, as it can go much further there.
Many men do seem single. Maybe stuck here because of unemployment, a failed marriage or a spouse’s death. There are less of them now since COVID.