Friday, June 3, 2011

Entitlement

I left work a couple of hours early today. On the way home I found myself suddenly in a line of trucas blindadas from DF. There were 4 and I'm not sure how but suddenly 2 were in front of me and 2 behind me. All of a sudden I heard a blast and my truck was hit with something. I thought for sure someone was shooting at them but it was actually the car in the next lane over whose tire had blown out. Part of the tire must have popped off and hit my car. It scared the crap out of me! It must have scared the little caravan too because everyone slammed on their brakes when it happened and I almost hit the truck in front of me. That would have been beyond bad...

I was still shaking when I stopped at Bip Bip to pay our water bill. I get out of the car and as I am walking to the store there is a woman sitting on the ground with a cup asking for money. Her 2 children are at the door trying to sell mazapanes to all of the customers leaving the store. When I walked out the woman called to me. "Guera, un peso, lo que sea, por favor, tu tienes por compartir!"

Maybe it was because I had a stressful work week, maybe it was because I was freaked out about what happened on the road and not thinking, but I finally said something I had been wanting to say for so long. "Mija, levantate. Solo levantate. Como vas a tener esos pobres jovencitos trabajando, mientras que estes alli sentada?"

Before you think I am a total bitch, I have to say I understand that I am beyond fortunate and blessed to have been born in the United States where there are endless opportunities and resources. I am not so ignorant to think that everyone can get work in Mexico or has access to help and support when times are tough. I see that many people are poverty stricken in a way I will never fully comprehend. I think it was the way she was just sitting there, while her children were on their feet WORKING... it was just too much for me. And the sad thing is that I see it every single day and it really makes me sick. If you are so desperate for work and a home and food, then get up. Stand up. You have two legs. I do give to the poor in Mexico on a regular basis, but I rarely give money. I give food to people almost daily. Lord knows I have too much of it. I suppose the reason I do that is because the majority of the people I see begging look seriously drugged, drunk or just plain lazy and as a former addict I refuse to support another's addictions or laziness, even if it is just a peso. The people I do give money to are people who I feel really deserve it. I know that I am not the person who decides who deserves what, but come on people, do something... anything. My husband and I don't get paid to sit on the corner with a cup. Is that was this woman thinks? "Tu tienes por compartir!" Seriously? Less than 15 minutes before I gave to a woman who was singing in the line. She was just standing there singing and bless her heart, doing a terrible job at it, but she was doing something. She was singing her heart out. I'm sure she had nothing left to give but her voice, but she gave. And so did I. This is what makes the world go round. You have to work for your money. There was a time in my life, when I was getting off of drugs for the last time, that I had to rebuild my life from nothing. I didn't have anyone letting me live with them rent free, or giving me money while I pretended to look for work, or throwing pesos in my fucking cup. At some point you have to stand up, and stop feeling sorry for yourself and be the best person you can be instead of wallowing around in your misfortune.

I guess this really has nothing to do with this particular woman. My frustration lies with so many people's entitlement issues. This really isn't even an issue I typically have in Mexico. However, it's a constant issue in the United States. It's even more annoying in the Land of Opportunity because there is not as much of an excuse for the behavior due to the availabilty of unemployment benefits, Medicaid, food stamps, homeless shelters, etc. I suppose seeing that woman sitting outside the convenience store was the equivilent to seeing at least 20 people come into my work in the past month pretending to apply for a job and doing as bad as they can during the interview process to ensure they wouldn't get hired or lose their benefits either... Maybe I took out my frustrations on her. Maybe not.

I felt terrible for saying what I said after the fact. As I drove away the woman was glaring at me in that "I'm about to do some serious brujeria on your ass"-look. I got back to my house and promptly packed up a grocery bag with some rice, beans, canned veggies, maruchanas, tortillas, etc and went back to Bip Bip. (Not because I was afraid of possible spells, trust me. I just felt bad.) I gave her the bag and I apologized. I told her that it was hard for me to see her there sitting while her kids were working. I told her that if she really, truly wanted to work she should stand up and offer to clean someone's house, or wash someone's windows. I told her that I wished her the best and I am sorry I said something so rude. She started to tell me about how she didn't like the jobs in Juarez because they were too hard so now she was just homeless. Too hard? What? Was this woman seriously telling me that she could/did work but just didn't like it? Then she told me that I should feel bad for her because she doesn't have any family here in Juarez "like me." I told her that I didn't have any family in Juarez either and that before I moved here I lived without any family within 1000 miles in the US for a long time. Then she... GET THIS... opened the bag of food I brought and sighed and then rolled her eyes. She didn't even say thank you. At the same time a man came out of the store and put like 10, one peso coins in her cup and while she said gracias no less than 3 times. That got a smile out of her. I wasn't expecting anything out of this woman, but geez, not even a thank you? I told her good luck and left. The whole thing really got to me.

I understand that this woman, and these people coming into my work to pretend to fill out an application, do not represent all of those who are struggling in this world, by any means. I guess the thing is that I feel bad for the people that are truly struggling in life and just can't catch a break. These lazy, free-loaders are ruining it all for those people who really just need a helping hand.

I feel like there is a reason for everything happening in my life. I feel like there is a reason I was able to learn Spanish so easily and a reason we are forced to live here in Mexico. This must be a sign that I should give back, teach someone something or try to change the world... But how can you know who to help? I have learned recently that many people just don't want to be helped. They are content in their misery and their role of playing the victim. How can I weed out people who will scoff at a donated bag of beans from the people who will praise God for those beans and feed their family for a couple of days with them??

I don't know... I'm sure I will get slack for posting all of this and sound incredibly naive. I just don't understand why someone wouldn't want to better their life. I don't understand why people just give up. I don't know why so many people expect a fairy to come around and give them the world. I don't understand why people resign themselves to failure and I don't know how to end this blog. I suppose there is no end or solution to this eternal battle.

7 comments:

  1. I just want to say that I was eagerly awaiting this much-fabled post! So thanks for posting. I agree...people like that woman are not within my realm of understanding. But the important message that I will give you is that you can't let people like that; people who manipulate and deceive; take away your spirit of giving. I volunteer on a DV hotline and sure there are some people who will call and pretend they want to leave their abuser, and you work so hard with them to plan and prepare - and they stay. But that doesn't mean I don't answer the next call with just as much enthusiasm and hope that this time, my time and energy will make a difference. I'm sorry that you are feeling down about this, but I don't want to see the characteristic 'Emi' positivity and love that I have grown to know be dampened due to a few people like this woman. Stay your awesome, generous self!

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  2. It was awesome to give her that stuff, don't get me wrong. I like to believe there is good in everyone.Maybe she scoffed at the bag of food because she has no way to cook it. Canned goods need a can opener or a knife to open them. Rice needs at least 30 minutes to cook. she needs a pot and fire to cook rice. If your homeless you likely won't have these items. I'm just saying she might of reacted the way she did since the items were useless to her situation, not that she was truly ungrateful for your generosity.

    I do get what you said about the kids. It is sad but seems to be a cultural and lack of education thing. I volunteer in a Hispanic community and see this alot. The children are assigned way too much work, they are parentified up to the gills. I notice many from royal parts of Mexico do not value education, and are not too worried about their child's education. The parents grew up very poor, and weren't educated so they see no reason there children should be. Many are not this way and I'm in no way stereotyping anyone. I've just witnessed a majority from certain areas/experiences, mostly those that were dirt poor and were forced to work at very young ages. It really is a chain reaction.

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  3. I actually run into this more in Mexico than in the US, not sure why that is. Here, there are many members of my husband's family who CHOOSE not to work. Not because there aren't jobs available, but b/c, as you said, they don't want to work at something that isn't easy and/or well paid. Then they give me and my husband long faces for money...money that we WORK for.

    Don't feel guilty for what you did. I struggle as you, with knowing when someone really needs compassion and help, and when they are sloughing off responsibility. Discernment comes with time, and wisdom. Nice post. :-)

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  4. I was told by a Mexican, who grew up poor in a family of 13, not to give money to the children. He explained to me that it is the parent's responsibility to support their children By giving the children money, it is supporting the parents who won't work.

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  5. Great Post and I agree I dont think there is an end or solution either. I think you did a great thing and I would have given the food instead of money too. Dont stop being yourself and giving. You never know, maybe one time it will make a bigger difference than you expect.

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  6. Very good post. It's a shame that people, even though they find themselves in what others would consider rock bottom, can not open their eyes to appreciate a strangers act of kindness and compassion.

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  7. My husband has been recently working replacing the street lamps downtown in Mexicali in the park which is by the border, there are many people there who are homeless and asking for handouts. He tells them he will either put them to work or buy them something to eat...only one man out of all the people who told him they needed money for food took him up on the offer and worked and my husband bought him food and gave him some money. The rest only wanted money for alcohol or drugs...sad.

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