Esperanza has been planning to get a job to help pay her tuition at Catholic high school, but she's caught off guard the day Aunt Lala comes over and tells her to show up for work at the Peter Pan Photo Finishers.
Esperanza puts on a dress that makes her look older, borrows money for bus fare, and shows up at the photo lab. She lies about her age to the boss, and starts the same day.
Esperanza finds the job easy, but she is nervous around the other employees.
Another employee, an "older Oriental man," offers to be Esperanza's friend and tells her she can sit with him at lunch next time (21.7). He has nice eyes, and Esperanza feels less nervous.
The older man tells Esperanza it's his birthday, and asks her for a birthday kiss. As she leans in to give him a kiss on the cheek, he grabs her face with both hands and kisses her hard on the mouth.