You live in Mexico City.
It’s a week before Christmas.
Walking up to the line for the check out, you have a card full of stuff.
A lot of groceries, some hard liquor and whatever else.
Standing in line, you start to get annoyed at the Mexican boomers in front of you taking their sweet ass time to pay for their shit and leave.
“Typical Mexicans. Give them a machine to pay and they take centuries to get the job done” you think in your typical American arrogance.
Finally, it’s your turn.
Not being a typical Mexican, you were conscious that there are people behind you who have to wait also and you decided to have your shit ready to be scanned before the person in front of you was done.
The lady by the cash register seemingly presses a button or two on her screen and asks you “tarjeta de puntos?”
If you’re a typical gringo with no Spanish, you might go “HUH? WHAT? SI SI!”
Then, having not understood what you said yes to, you get asked for the info on your “tarjeta de puntos” card that doesn’t actually exist.
Silly gringo – you can’t just say SI SI to anything you don’t understand.
The lady behind the cash register is confused.
But, assuming you are in a touristy area, she might be used to this already.
Then she dishes out her best broken English to convey what she wanted to say originally in Spanish.
You understand what she meant to ask now.
Feeling like a silly gringo who is a little bit embarrassed from the miscommunication, you laugh it off.
Life goes on.
Then everything is rung up.
A total of 1,900 pesos.
Or roughly 95 bucks.
“Tarjeta o efectivo?” she asks.
You wet your pants.
“ay uhhh SI SI!” you say half confidently before handing her a 500 peso bill.
She reluctantly takes the 500 peso bill knowing she isn’t supposed to take too many and will likely have to give her manager a blowjob to calm down any annoyances he might have accepting such a large bill despite being a million dollar business she works at.
Soon enough, you get your change anyhow.
Everything in your cart.
And an older man who is skin to the bones standing in front of you.
He gives you a quick look before looking back down to the next wave of items coming his way to pack.
Someone who could easily pass for 80 years old.
Someone who looks lik they haven’t had a large warm meal in a few months since the last time the grandkids remembered that they’re still alive.
And, assuming you are new to town, maybe don’t know that they aren’t necessarily being paid very much if at all.
You walk away.
Take your groceries back home.
And life goes on for you.
But, for that individual, maybe has to eat a more humble meal that night.
Tip the Grocery Workers
I use a little bit of exaggeration in my story telling when I’m drunk enough.
Like I am now.
Still, the point is obvious, isn’t it?
Tip the grocery workers.
In Mexico, you have these older folks who literally look like they should be retired working at Walmart, Soriana and other supermarkets putting your stuff away in the cart as you pay.
While the US has plenty of its own poverty, you still have moments down here in Mexico that pull the heart strings a little bit.
While I’m not trying to be an ass looking down on the old folks who help out at the grocery stores, I do look at them in a similar fashion.
These are old folks who honestly should be retired and not having to work to make ends meet.
Sure, I’m positive a few of them genuinely do the work because they are bored and don’t need the money necessarily.
I’m positive those exists!
Not trying to be a smartass – sure, those exists too!
Still, there’s plenty who genuinely need the money.
I can only say what I’ve said before – tip them.
I know the Europeans are probably the most anal about giving a tip.
I can only assume so because they tend to be the most anal about tipping people in the US on the basis of “well, the restaurant should cover their wages instead!”
I get it.
Yes, big business should pay more.
In Mexico included.
No excuse for a business as profitable like Soriana or Walmart to not pay more to these folks or any of their workers.
Still, your Euro bitching isn’t fixing anything.
Until it is fixed, realize these folks still have shit to live on and could use a little extra.
Or just realizing that someone this old still working might truthfully need a few extra bucks and your whining on Facebook isn’t going to fix the salary problem tomorrow.
And, if we’re being honest, you don’t have to give much to make a small difference.
When I went to buy some spiced rum for last Christmas eve, I tipped about 5 bucks or 100 pesos.
That’s not much but it is a lot more than what a typical Mexican offers.
And the person was very happy to receive that.
Did it help pay off their mortgage?
But, while the 5 bucks wasn’t shit to me, it was a meal’s worth of money to them.
Or maybe enough to cover one last small gift for the grandkids.
And, the longer I live here, the more I feel that attitude.
As long as I’m not literally living paycheck to paycheck, I do feel a little more desire to give back a tiny bit more than I would normally.
Not because I’m trying to be superman because I get my 5 bucks a tip doesn’t mean jackshit in the long run but it does have more importance to the average local than it does to me.
And, if you aren’t struggling like some foreigners do down here (I would know), then truly consider giving that type of tip to the grocery store worker.
The only negative I can hear from other foreigners is how “well, if you tip that much, it’ll make all of them have higher expectations of us and be entitled.”
When it comes to things like rent, that’s true.
But I’m not asking you to tip a 100 bucks.
At least a dollar – that’s more than your typical local.
It’s not the worst idea.
But, as it’s not my business to tell you how to spend your money, I’ll just leave it at that regarding how much you personally wish to tip.
Only with the hope that you at least remember the advice to tip at the very least as tipping the grocery store worker does seem more common down here than up there.
And that’s all I got to say.
Leave any comments below in the comment section.
Would love to hear other opinions on this subject.
Especially if this happens in other Latin countries – does it?
I don’t remember going to the grocery store in other Latin American countries so some comparative experiences would be cool to read.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.