Betsy Vargas, 29, is a cashier at 7-Eleven and Which Wich. After her divorce last year, she became a single mom and was forced to take on two hourly jobs to support her and her son.
When you walk into the front of the 7-Eleven on the corner of West Berry Street and South University Drive, you might see her smiling at you from behind the cash register with her name tag that reads “Betsy.” It would have to be a Monday or Tuesday evening though. Otherwise, she is working the register a few doors down at Which Wich, where she has been for four years.
Vargas works as a cashier at both Which Wich and 7-Eleven. During each shift, she focuses on handling money with care, ensuring that people give her the correct amount and giving people the correct change in return. She has to be exact because she never wants to be short at the end of her shift, she said.
“This is what I do every day,” Vargas said. “I go there. I show up every day and do whatever I am supposed to do. Being in the front at the cash register, I have to talk to almost everybody who walks in the store, and I like it. I really like to talk to people. I guess I talk too much sometimes. Maybe.”
Vargas describes one of the most rewarding parts of her job:
“I like to meet new people every day. All kind of people – seniors, little kids when they’re off from school, sometimes I even see kids from Paschal because Paschal is in the area, too. It’s not just one kind. It’s every age.”
“I really enjoy what I do. I’ve been working [at Which Wich] for four years. Most of my coworkers, they’ve been there about the same time. We know each other very well. We’re very good friends. We feel as a family. I really like it, and I don’t work so many hours – it’s like six hours every day – so, to me, it’s perfect because I don’t have to be standing on my feet for too long.”
In the future, Vargas wants to work a full-time job, but right now she must work two part-time jobs. As a single mother, it is all she can do just to stay afloat, she said.
“Right now, I can’t afford to lose any of my jobs because they help me a lot economically. I can’t lose either one of them. In the future, of course, if I can get a full-time job, I would love to work in just one place. I don’t really enjoy working both places because there’s times when I have to work seven days in a row, and I won’t have any days off the whole week. It’s kind of stressful not having one day off…It’s not that I love working. It’s just that I have to mostly. It helps me a lot, so that’s the best part: the money,” she said.
Being a single mom means she is the sole provider for her family and does not always get the time to spend with her son. Vargas describes this challenge and how she values the time she does have with him:
“The hardest part is sometimes I don’t see my son in the whole day. Because whenever he’s in school, I’m at home, cleaning, doing whatever work I have to do. And then when I go to work, it’s time for him to come home, and it’s eight hours that I have to be at work, and I don’t have time to see my kid. That’s the hardest part: not seeing my kid in the whole day. He’s only six years old, and he needs his mom pretty much. But I have no choice, so he has to spend some time with grandma. She helps me a lot.”
“Monday, Tuesday – I definitely don’t have time to spend with him. But during the week – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – after I get off from work from Which Wich, I got plenty of time.”
“If the weather is nice, we go to the park and he plays, and that’s how we spend time. He likes to be outside sometimes, riding his bicycle. Sometimes we’re here at home, watching cartoons, so I pretty much know everything he watches. I get used to whatever he likes to watch because most of the time he’s watching TV or playing games on his Wii.”
Whenever Vargas thinks that working might all be too much, she just has to think of her son, she said. He is her motivation.
“He gives me the strength to keep going on. Other than that, I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like running away again to my mom’s lap and then being pampered. [Laughs] Even though I’m not a teenager anymore, I still feel like running away to my mom. But I am an adult, and I have to be responsible for my little son, so that’s what keeps me going on, keeps giving me strength to keep going and going and going. Even I don’t feel like going to work sometimes, but I have no choice. I have to. I have car payments, insurance, cleaning bills to cover.”
Vargas came to the United States in 1990 from Guatemala City. As a graduation gift, her parents offered to send her to visit her brother in San Francisco, she said. She liked it so much that she decided to stay there for five or six years. They later moved to Texas because life is California was too expensive.
“I ended up staying because I did like it. I like the culture. I like it. It’s more safe than my country. The life – it’s safe here,” she said.
“In my country, there’s a lot of violence on the streets. You have to be careful whenever you’re wearing gold or if you’re wearing a nice pair of shoes. They can assault you and rob whatever you have on you at the time, and they take everything – whatever gold, whatever money, if you have a cellphone, they take it. It’s dangerous in the city.”
Vargas does not plan to stay here forever though. She likes it here in Fort Worth, but Guatemala is her home.
“I feel like maybe one day I’m going to go back to my country because I own a pretty nice house over there. I think when I get older and it’s time to retire, I want to go back home. I want to feel like I’m home. I still have family in my country. That’s what I think for my future.”