Some odd months ago, I was sitting down in a café in Mexico City talking with someone I know.
During our conversation, we saw some middle aged looking woman that was seemingly homeless walk into the café.
Immediately, she was turned away by the security at the door who recognized that she was homeless and knew that, in all likelihood, she was there to beg for money.
As a result, the topic of homeless folks in Mexico City came up.
Which, for those who have been to Mexico City, it does seem quite apparent just how many homeless people there are in this city.
Across the Americas, Mexico City is one of the worst places I’ve been to when it comes to the amount of homeless people outside in my opinion.
On that topic, the other guy started going off about how he finds it annoying when he drives around Mexico City looking for a place to park…
And some random homeless person appears out of nowhere with a dirty rag in his hand waving it in the direction of your car pretending to be helping you park properly.
Even though, really almost always, it never seems like the rag waving homeless guy is actually doing anything productive.
He’s simply pretending like he somehow helped you park the vehicle when, in reality, he didn’t.
Subsequently, he asks for some money as you exit the vehicle because “he helped you park!”
The other guy was going off then about how annoying it is when these folks demand money for literally not doing anything but pretending they somehow helped you.
Thinking about it, I remember seeing the exact same thing not too long ago in Copilco as I write this.
The Hustling Homeless
About last week, I had to make a quick stop at the nearby pharmacy to get some TRT injected into me.
I had to hurry because I had a chick named Jovi who was coming over to hookup again and so I had to get my business done quick.
As well, I needed to buy something at the 7-11 to mix some liquor for myself.
Recently, I’ve been considering to get experimental again with mixing drinks and not just drink black tea and vodka mixes.
Maybe make some mojitos again as I just bought some rum not too long ago.
Anyway, after I get the TRT injected, I walk on over to the 7-11 as I said.
While walking over, I see a homeless guy doing the exact same thing that my friend was complaining about – waving a rag at parking vehicles.
It was a homeless guy I had seen around the area quite often actually – especially around 11 PM to 1 AM.
Sometimes, during those hours, I might take a quick stop at the 7-11 since it’s only a few minutes walking away from my apartment and I need something.
Either it be 20 liters of water, toilet paper, a bottle or maybe some cream for pasta that I might cook soon.
Anyway, that homeless guy I saw waving his rag around usually was the one who opened the door for me at the 7-11.
That’s another thing that homeless folks sometimes do when they want to get money – they open doors for people without you even having to ask.
This time, as I walked up to the 7-11, I noticed another younger guy who was there on the spot to open the door for me.
I walk in and buy my stuff.
And I get change of like 40 pesos in coins.
As I walk out, I give the guy, as he opens the door for me again, a 5 peso coin.
Which is roughly 25 cents.
Might not seem like much to foreigners but it’s alright.
Could, in theory, buy the dude one small ass taco on the street.
A very small one anyway.
Still, when it comes to me, I don’t mind these folks so much.
They are never demanding in the area where I am…
Granted, the homeless in touristy areas like Roma Norte or El Centro can be a shit ton more aggressive.
And with seemingly worse mental health issues.
Like this one time months ago where I got into an argument with some drunk homeless dude at another 7-11 as you can read about here.
Anyway, outside of berating the homeless, I got other things to with my time…
So, like I said, I gave the dude a 5 peso coin, he said thanks and I carried on my day to wait for Jovi at my apartment.
But this all does bring up a small topic when it comes to life in Latin America…
Be it Mexico City or anywhere else…
Should you Tip the Homeless?
If you don’t want to, it’s cool.
It’s your money and you are absolutely not required to give them money obviously.
When it comes to homeless folks who are just begging and not doing anything for their money…
If it’s a middle aged guy, being honest, I tend to feel less sympathy for them.
I think we all do, no?
Easier to feel sympathy for when you see a homeless child, homeless old person or a pregnant mother asking for money.
With those groups, you always feel a little more sympathy to maybe give them 5 pesos or something.
And, if I happen to have some minor change in my pockets, I give some to homeless middle aged men also sometimes.
Still, those are the ones who beg.
Who aren’t doing anything for the money necessarily.
When it comes then to those who do perform some service….
Well, you have the rag wavers as I said before…
Personally, I don’t have a car so they never ask me for money.
But, if I did have a car, I’m not sure I would tip them necessarily.
Because the point is true – they literally are not doing anything productive and their “help” in getting you to park your car is literally nothing more than waving a rag around from what I have seen.
Granted, as I said, I don’t have a car so maybe I have only been exposed to those who are not very good at their self-employed gig of waving a rag at vehicles.
The only thing that would make me maybe tip them a tiny bit is to ensure that they don’t key my hard.
As I wrote here, you do have cases in Latin America where someone might ask for a small fee to park your car somewhere or else “something might happen” to your car.
Granted, those folks are, from my impression, different from the rag waving homeless folks but the idea is still the same.
Being a gringo, I could see an entitled homeless person getting angry at the lack of a tip and kicking my car or something while I’m away.
So a 5 peso tip might not be the worst thing to offer here.
And when it comes to the door openers?
For those, I do try to give a 5 peso note for sure.
To me, it’s only 25 cents so I don’t really give a fuck about it.
And while there is no worry in this case of them damaging my property and I’m not worried about them chasing me down either…
I do see that they are at least doing something that is objectively productive – opening doors for people.
With the rag wavers, you can’t necessarily say that they always do anything productive if their parking assistance isn’t actually helping anyone park better.
But the door openers are actually opening doors – I have seen it with my own eyes – doors do get opened!
Impressive work there, vato.
So, because they are doing something that is to my benefit (no matter how minor it might be), I don’t mind giving a minor tip of 25 cents to them.
And, of course, I’m sure you got homeless folks doing other things to get by.
These two are the main ones that come to mind.
But if you have any other examples of homeless folks doing stuff for cash or if you have an opinion on giving them money or not…
Well, drop any comments below.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.