Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Desperation Ignored

We happened to be sitting at an outside table at a restaurant in downtown Cancun Sunday morning. Having a nice conversation with a friend and noticing that hardly any people were passing by on the street.

Our conversation and meal was interrupted by a young man. Perhaps in his early twenties. He was clean, pleasant and dressed in the clothing so popular today; cargo shorts and a button up shirt. He extended an opened bag of wrapped candies towards us. In very good English, he offered to sell us one for a peso.

We politely told him no thank you. I noticed the look of disappointment on his face but he quietly walked away.

I was so concentrating on my own good time that I never gave a thought as to why a personable, reasonably good looking and polite young man would be trying to sell candy by the piece. Desperate times call for desperate measures to survive. What would it have hurt us to each buy a piece of candy from him? For that matter, why didn't we just buy the whole bag from him? It would not have broken our bank but would have helped him. Thoughtless and selfish on our part.

I feel so guilty and ashamed of myself. I vow to pay more attention to trying to help out in smaller ways, instead of thinking that only big gestures will help.

Except I am still not going to buy any bracelets from the Chiapas women or invite minstrels to sing next to my table. I think tomorrow (today?) we will go to Cancun and stock up on some stable food items to hand out to our friends under some guise or another in order to not make them feel like they are receiving charity.

11 comments:

Sue said...

Ah, how I know the feeling. A quick refusal while you are in the midst of something else or just don't want to encourage this behavior, and then, when you think about it later - regret. Me - my thing is to not stop and put money in the can at the speedbump near the airport - I do not like being accosted in the street like that and I wish they'd stop it. I also don't like the musicians on the top of the Ultramar - a couple are very good, several are horrible, and I just want to enjoy the ride and not be bothered by it, but I tip them all out of a sense of obligation. I guess the tourists like it though. But you're right - now is the time for us that have more to be a little more generous to those in need.

Jackie said...

That is so nice of you!
After hearing from two different friends who just returned from Isla how incredible slow it was on the island I made a giving decision the other day. I along with two other women sponsor a young woman who is going to university in Mèrida. Alejandra’s mother sells pareos on the road to Sergio’s. If there are so few tourists on the island surely she is not selling many wraps. Anyway I give $100 a month and the other two women give $50 to help support Alejandra’s school expenses. I decided the other day that when I send in our check next month that I am going to add in another $50 or $100 to help out. After all yesterday I bought $30 worth of steaks for a bbq at my daughter’s house. $100 won’t break me but it could make a difference for Alejandra’s family on Isla.

IslaZina said...

The romaine (orejona) multipaks are great to break up as gifts. As in, Please take some off our hands. Don't know what we were thinking. Oh, but the price was so good! 30 pesos for 10 heads, we'd pay more for one in the super, etc. They don't eat enough greens here.

garydenness said...

I don't know how things are in your part of Mexico, but here in DF the sheer number of people begging/selling/cleaning windows etc forces you to harden yourself, no matter how generous of spirit you might be. I normally try to take any left overs from a restaurant meal and give it to kids. And I used to save up all my centavos in a tin, and when it was full, give the proceeds to a handicapped begger on the metro. But centavos have rather disappeared over the last year....

Nancy said...

You're so right, Wayne. I know just what you mean. We had a very similarly dressed man offer to sell us candy just walking down our street the other day. I'm glad we bought some. Everyone is stressed out here. The newspaper quotes government officials telling the populace to cut back, save, do without, do whatever they can to weather the crisis, not to depend on the government since their coffers have been hit, too.

Good post.

cozzie laura said...

IslaZina, good idea! I'll be "incorporating" it here in Cozumel, thanks for the tip!

Steve Cotton said...

We have a similar issue here on the west coast. The streets of Melaque are almost deserted. I have decided to search out the few still-open restaurants to, at least, have lunch out each day. I can easily afford it -- and my neighbors can use the business.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

You could go through your cupboards and take everything out and give away anything more than a month old. Use the excuse that you are cleaning out the cupboards and can't eat everything up before it goes bad.
I like the split up a big quantity idea too.
regards,
Theresa

KfromMichigan said...

You are a kind person. I always give can food to the food banks here. And I collect the amnities from my hotel stays for the homeless shelters.

Moving to Mexico said...

On days out around town in SMA I get approached probably 5 times, mostly by small children. This of course breaks your heart but after a while you get used to it, sort of. Sometimes I will give them money and other times I don't.

Your post has me rethinking how I handle these situations, maybe I will start keeping more change to give out, or think of another way to help, like you have.

Michele in Playa said...

Welcome back Wayne!! Recently, Rob and i have put ourselves on what we call "the austerity diet". We are trying to save up a chunk of change for something important and have decided to really watch our budget. I have become really conscious of how much money I pay out in random tips every week. Tips to the grocery baggers, tips to the guy who hauls my dog food bags into the truck, tips for the guy who just fixed the lock on my front door, tips for the guys who throw cardboard on the windscreen of my car and "assist" me in pulling out of my parking spot (as if I haven't been doing just fine on my own for like 25 years. We buy roses from just one guy in town. We have one particular strolling musician who we like very much. At the end of the month, the numbers really can grow quite high. That being said, we do our best to spread out our $$$ as best we can and support the individuals and businesses that we really want to make it through these leaner times. With less and less to spread around, everybody is suffering. It's hard to turn away from so many in need.