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Do you feel like people are asking you for money all day long?

Telemarketers on the phone.

Letters to donate for different charities that come in the mail.

Cute little kids in their team uniforms standing outside Stop & Shop asking for donations.

Here I don’t get very many phone calls or mail and I don’t shop in the big grocery stores.  But there are still people asking for money.  It just comes in different forms.

Today on the way home from school with the kiddos I ran into the Oxxo (like Cumberland Farms) to grab some milk.  It’s a little more money but right on the way.  The milk is 20 pesos so I hand the guy exact change.  He asks me for 2 more pesos.  Caught off guard (because you know how it is in mom world  where you are having 16 dozen things going through your head and your full attention is not always on the task at hand) I asked him what he said.  He repeats asking me for 2 more pesos.  I asked why.  He says for the milk.  My response is that it’s only 20 pesos and I just paid the correct amount.  Up to this point our conversation is all in spanish.  Then he says in english, “But I need the change.”

My response? 

It was, “Dude, I need the change too.”

Then he smiled and I smiled and he said, “Hasta luego.”  (see you later)

What would your response have been been? Leave your comment below.  We’d love to hear.

Here’s the cultural thing about life here.  People are not mean or evil.  But they feel that people who have more have a responsibility to help those who have less and are not afraid to ask.  Especially since every Gringo is rich compared to people from here.  You will have the opportunity to do your share to help whether you know it or not. 😉  You learn to always pay attention.

Mikee was at the gas station last week and the girl smiled as she handed him change (which was short by 50 pesos) and she continued to smile as she fixed her “mistake”.

There are many times I hand a couple pesos to people.  A single peso equals about 8 cents.  The person who bags your groceries, the guy who takes your cart back for you, the street jugglers,  the blind guy holding a sign that says, “It’s a beautiful day today, but I can’t see it.”  (he really is blind.  we saw him almost get run over Saturday afternoon), the person who fills your gas tank & washes your windows at the full service gas station.  It’s a simple act of kindness and it makes a difference in someone’s life.

Most Mexicans live day by day.  And 8 cents here and 8 cents there adds up pretty quick for them.  We don’t get upset by it.  They are not rude or obnoxious like your typical telemarketer or time share salesperson.  But we do always have to pay attention.

Yesterday we went to a really nice restaurant in a typical poor Mexican neighborhood and as soon as Mikee pulls up to the (18″ tall) curb a little 6 year old kid comes up smiling and starts in a fast incomprehensible flurry of words asking for some money.  Just to mess with him Mikee asked why.  A second flurry of words come rushing out.  Mikee gives him 2 pesos and tells him (with the 2 finger point to Mikee’s eyes, the kids eyes, and the car) make sure nothing happens to the car.  We made that kid happy and nobody threw any rocks at the car.  (not that anything bad would have happened)

How many kids do you know that you could make so happy for just 16 cents?

It’s not just a Gringo thing.  The Mexicans are also very generous to someone in need.

The guys in the Oxxo get paid pretty well.  Their little scam probably works many times.  There are many people here who don’t speak spanish or they get nervous and they probably just hand over the change.

But not this chica!

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Jill February 22, 2011, 7:07 am

    How do you write a resume for that job. hmmm….I’ve had ? years experience begging in many different settings, I’m very good with people, not rude. Here are my references (parents names)
    Very sad profession and shows we need a global solution to poverty and equality.

    • admin February 22, 2011, 8:09 pm

      It’s true Jill that there are many reduced to begging money. There is no country immune to this. There is no country in the world that can successfully care for all the needs of it’s citizens. The differences I notice here is that I don’t feel unsafe, people are not demanding, and their face lights up with a simple gesture of kindness.

  • DAD February 22, 2011, 10:22 am


    • admin February 22, 2011, 8:09 pm

      Thanks Dad. Knew I could count on you to respond to this funny little story. 🙂

  • Dane in Ajijic February 22, 2011, 6:11 pm

    That’s a little strange about the clerk at Oxxo asking for extra pesos. He does have a job, after all, although I am sure that he’s not paid extremely well. It’s the people who are obviously beggars that I find it almost impossible to say no to. I usually handle these situations with a big smile and hand over a peso or two, although like you I’m not sure I would have done it with this particular fellow. Just a peso can really help make someone’s day, whether it’s a child or someone at the tianguis. After all, even those of us who don’t have a lot of money by norteamericano standards are really lucky to be able to live in such a beautiful place like Lake Chapala. I can only afford to live in Ajijic a few months at a time, until I am all out of money. As such, every peso I give away or spend means a day less for me. But it’s a privilege to be here, and I think many of the expats who live here are wont to forget that. And if a couple pesos means the difference between an empty belly or a full one, then I’m happy to help out.

    • admin February 22, 2011, 8:16 pm

      I was surprised by his request too, Dane. In the end we both smiled and I wasn’t offended and he wasn’t rude. Gave us a chuckle around the dinner table last night. Glad to have you comment on our blog. Maybe we’ll bump into each other in town one of these days.
      ps-nice website you have there.

  • Laurel February 22, 2011, 7:36 pm

    This brings to mind the scripture, “there is more happiness in giving, than there is in receiving”. Bear with me while I explain why. The gift of giving to someone should come from the heart, therefore, giving the giver happiness. When the gift is essentially “taken” or “asked for” instead of “given freely”, it robs the giver of their happiness. I know you to be a generous person. But if someone takes or requests something as if it is “owed” to them, you are not being generous, you may even become a “chump” instead. No happiness in that. For either party, is there? Continue to “give” from the heart, as I know you will, and be the “not this chica” when necessary. My two cents, …..errr…..pesos.

    • admin February 22, 2011, 8:40 pm

      Love your 2 pesos of thought Laurel. 🙂 We find (and it’s a good lesson for the kids) that there are many opportunities for kindness. Generosity with the right motive can truly bring happiness. It’s also a demonstration of Matthew 7:12 “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”
      (but sometimes the “not this chica” response is totally ok. you would have been proud)

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