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- The Gringo Generosity With Giving Money to Locals
Last night, I traveled slightly up north to Metro Copilco area to pick up a pizza.
Given it was Sunday night, there wasn't much available to eat in terms of street food in my neighborhood at around 10 PM.
While they did have some street food options, the options tend to be less than desirable late on Sunday night.
So I traveled to Copilco to look at my options up there.
Ended up deciding on some cheesy bread full of chorizo made by Dominos.
Heading back to the metro to get home with the food, there was a black homeless lady with a daughter begging for money.
Given she was black, you'd think she was Haitian or Jamaican but she seemed to speak Spanish natively.
So a black Mexican perhaps (you don't see many of them in Mexico City).
At any rate, I didn't give her any money when I arrived to Copilco area and walked up the stairs as I wasn't sure how much money I'd be spending that night.
But, as I returned to the metro station, I had some left over change that I gave her.
I didn't count it though.
Just grabbed what was in the pocket and gave it to her.
If I had to guess, maybe 40 pesos or 2 bucks?
She was very grateful for it.
Perhaps because your average Mexican isn't handing over 40 pesos usually to any random homeless person.
Usually they give more like 5 to 10 pesos.
Though, to be fair, 40 pesos isn't a million bucks either.
Not life changing.
But, similar to what I wrote here, I have found myself being a little more generous in what I give to homeless people.
Compared to years ago, I'm not as picky with money because I don't feel as much financial stress these days than when I began living in Mexico City years ago.
So to hand out an extra dollar or two once a week or so doesn't matter.
But, in some sense, you might have some gringos who see my act as a bad thing.
To be too generous handing out money to the homeless as a bad thing to do in Mexico and broader Latin America.
The Gringo Generosity of Money
To be honest, it's not just a matter of giving money to the homeless.
But, as I get older, I do feel a softer spot each year for them and find it harder to not give something every so often.
There is a part of you that wants to sit down, crack open a beer and have a simple chat with them to ask how are they doing and help out a tiny bit if possible.
Though, like I said, some gringos might find that problematic.
In the same way that they might find gringo generosity in other ways to be problematic.
Be it the gringo who does any of the following:
- Does no research as to what apartments costs and is OK with letting a local charge him double or more for a place to rent.
- Gives very high tips of like 30% when most locals tip 10% at restaurants or bars.
- Doesn't question the prices he is given when buying something and just pays it even if it is double the price or more.
- Has a maid or some servant that he pays way more for their services than a local ever would (largely due to a guilt he feels for paying so low) and inflates the average price of their services in whatever specific part of the country.
So on and so on!
In the end, the gringo -- through ignorance or some guilt type feeling from having money and seeing so many down here have so little -- decides to inflate prices for goods and services in whatever part of Latin America.
Even when it comes to the homeless, obviously there isn't always much of a good or service being offered by them (unless they were singing or doing something to demand money from).
But, in the last scenario with homeless folks, the same thing can happen when a gringo is overly generous in how much he offers to said homeless person and then it inflates the expectations said homeless people have regarding how much money we gringos should give them to help them out.
Makes them more entitled.
Makes them think that a more generous amount donated is "usual" or easy for us gringos to give when, in reality, not all of us are actually capable of handing out x amount each day to each homeless person that asks for help.
Consequently, you'll find that the entitled local will act pissed if you don't live up to the higher standards he has due to other gringos giving generous amounts.
First, I remember a upper class Mexican over a year ago who was helping run an apartment building I was living in Roma Norte (gringo heavy area of Mexico City).
Dude had a real attitude towards gringos who couldn't afford to live in Roma Norte from what I could tell in my conversations with him.
By that time, you started to get a flood of gringos into Mexico City escaping Covid restrictions and all and obviously some are poorer than others.
With such a flood, the poorer ones are more likely to come into the consciousness of SOME locals and SOME of them do find it annoying the idea of the gringo who isn't wealthy enough to afford a place in Roma Norte (though, oddly enough, they might bitch about gentrification too. More on that contradiction here).
Second, you have tips.
I wrote about it before how I once went to a bar in Centro Historico area of CDMX a few years ago and almost got into a fist fight with a waiter who was demanding a higher tip.
I gave him what seemed like a normal tip for Mexico but he wasn't having it and literally got in my face demanding more.
That would NEVER happen in an area not flooded with gringos giving 30% tips.
He ended up fucking off and I left without giving more but never to go back to that place obviously.
Third, I don't have any experience paying more for my cleaning ladies or maids. Usually I have always paid 10 bucks a visit whenever a landlord wanted me to pay for it (no matter how much I fucking hate having cleaning ladies as I wrote here).
Still, as you can see in this article I wrote here, you'll find gringos who feel guilty about paying so little for a cleaning lady or maid and might even guilt trip other gringos into paying more.
Obviously, that has an effect on the prices of them if enough of that is happening.
Fourth, then you have the prices of things you get as a gringo.
Be it chips you buy, water or whatever the hell else.
Just a few weeks ago, an "Agua Man" of my area tried charging me double the price for water.
He wanted 40 pesos for 20 liters of water when he and literally every other Agua Man charges 20 pesos for 20 liters.
He ended up getting only 20 pesos and I haven't bought from him since.
More on the Agua Men of Mexico City in this article here.
Anyway, I live in an area that has no tourists and so that behavior is not usual whatsoever.
Much more common in touristy areas to have locals who see us as ATM machines.
But, being I am a White American, you will still have that type of local who does only see us as ATM machines and treat us as such.
By supporting said locals through buying from them and not knowing what a fairer price is, you are supporting this treatment and making it more common.
Increasing prices of local products where even local Mexicans get charged with over time in touristy areas where said higher prices become the norm.
It's something I wrote about here where you got Mexicans bitching about the price of services rising in areas they have childhood memories of but now are changed due to the tourism influence.
And now they get charged higher prices too or the locals don't want to serve them versus serving a gringo they suspect will pay higher prices and tip a higher percentage.
Above all, the many influences of the influx of gringos does change things locally.
It raises prices of local goods and services and it also raises the entitlement of literally everyone (even the homeless people) regarding what they can think they can get out of gringos.
I've brought light to this topic on numerous other articles so I'll end it quickly here.
Above all, you have an effect of extra gringos in any area (tourists or not) which increases the standards and entitlement of the locals onto all of us.
For one, it can be a little bit annoying as I am far from the richest gringos you have ever met.
But, even if I had more money, it's still not nice to be seen as an ATM machine.
It's a topic I wrote about here where the superficial ways locals see us can be alienating and sometimes leaving you wishing for more to be seen as just a normal person and not only a temporary fixture to their society to benefit them now in specific ways (like giving money).
Second, when it comes to giving to the homeless or tipping, I am more generous these days than before.
Maybe I am contributing to this idea of the "gringo ATM machine" that we are stereotyped as but it is always hard (no matter how long I live here or see it on a daily basis) to see a homeless person.
At the end of the day, they are very happy with one dollar donations and why the fuck not give that once every few days or whatever?
Even if I gave it out once a day, that money can at least buy a random homeless person some very cheap tacos (enough for a very small meal anyway).
It means nothing to me but it helps someone who needs it. To give only 10 cents? Nothing wrong with that but it's not doing much and a dollar donation to me isn't much either but is more to them.
Third, I hate it when only us gringos are blamed for the increasing entitlement of the locals on how much we should spend on things.
Especially if said bitching is done by another local (usually upper middle class one who is bitching because he has money but not enough anymore to live in the nicest areas and has to settle for a normal hood. Oh pobrecito....).
Why not complain about the locals who choose to overcharge some of us?
It takes two for a transaction to be made.
The gringo who agrees to the price and the local who charges it.
But, for perhaps obvious reasons, they don't bitch about their own countrymen and just foreigners.
Fourth, like I hinted at before, I don't like it when all foreigners are portrayed as being very rich.
At this point in time, I'm probably one of the poorer gringos you'd meet out here.
Stop thinking all of us shit out gold.
Fifth, what about the guilt some gringos feel for paying so little for a service or good?
Honestly, I think it's a bit stupid for them to feel as such.
If a local maid agreed to a price of 350 a month, then that's what she agreed to!
Also, your idea of what is a lot or a decent sum of money is different from theirs given the different scales of economy from the Mexican to the American perspective.
Sure, 350 doesn't get you shit in the US but it can pay all the bills for a Mexican in Mexico.
They won't be living in Polanco but they can eat their meals and rent a place.
That amount of money would never get you anywhere close to that in the US.
So they're going to be more appreciative of that sum of money down here than up there (especially if they live outside of Mexico City).
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
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Thanks for reading.