Less than a week ago, a small incident happened here in Latin America that is all too common for expats (or immigrants?) living south of the border.
It's an aspect to life that I've written about such as in this article here but figured I'd drop another example of.
While I have my doubts, there is a part of me that hopes some random Latin American with a business down here is reading this and takes notes on how to not be a retard that pisses off your clients.
After all, if you are a Latin American who runs some hustle, surely you want your clients to be returning and giving you enough money to move beyond a life living in Neza, no?
To move from Neza to Buenavista with your wife (read: cousin) and family. Progress!
At any rate, one such moment today made me doubt even more the degree to which locals can learn basic business practices that value long term over short term.
It's not much of a story but it has details all too common to the gringo living in Latin America that it's worthy of bringing up.
"How Much Does the Pambazo Cost?"
As we all know, inflation has been a bit of a topic around the world in 2022.
Even as you can read here, it's been a topic in Mexico also.
Over the last year or so, I have seen some prices rise but, as I wrote in the article last cited, the price increases you see as a gringo don't matter too much when you earn USD and earn in pesos.
Anyway, there was a moment less than a week ago that was kinda funny.
I was visiting a friend near La Viga Metro area of Mexico City named Bryan.
We were going to get some street food at some spot that he hadn't gone to much but had seen in the area often enough because he has lived in this area for over a year or almost 2 years as far as I know.
With about as much time in Mexico (5 years) and plenty of Spanish ability like myself.
So he's no stranger to Latin America.
And he knows what are fair prices for various food items.
At any rate, we stop by this one street food spot to get some food to go as I was feeling like having a pambazo.
Which, for those who don't know, is basically a Mexican sandwich with chorizo and potatoes as you can see here.
Blayde was thinking of having some gorditas though and this spot fortunately had some gorditas listed on their big sign hanging over the street food spot.
Before ordering a pambazo though, I did make sure to ask the dude "cuanto cuesta?"
Even though I have a rough idea of what it'll be given I have lived in Mexico for 5 years and have eaten more street food than you can imagine, I always feel like asking the price before ordering.
Just because you never know if the dude, upon hearing your accent, is going to fuck with you and give you a retard price.
Which is what he exactly did.
In my time eating street food, I have never seen a place serve a pambazo for more than 40 pesos at most.
Where I live now, they offer them for 20 to 25 pesos each.
What did this dude want to charge?
He literally said "noventa pesos."
Or "90 pesos."
Now, unless this dude is some cook for those in Polanco, one has to wonder how it costs 90 pesos?
Keep in mind that we were in La Viga Metro area as I said.
Definitely not Polanco or Roma Norte or Condesa.
Even if we were in such areas, such a price for a pombazo seems "a bit high" for what you'd expect.
The funny thing though is that, when I asked him to clarify the price (noventa? I repeated and he said "aha"), Blayde picked up a cheap menu that was laying in front of us that had the list of foods this dude cooked and their prices.
And the price of the pambazo according to the menu?
Exactly 35 pesos!
Which, compared to other places on the street, still seems slightly higher than normal but not out of this world for what you'd expect.
Maybe "out of this world" if you were a Mexican making 5,000 pesos a month.
At any rate, Blayde couldn't help himself but ask "y eso?" while holding up the plastic menu.
And the cook mumbled some shit but I didn't catch it.
It sounded like a rejection though -- "no, no, no idea what that is. Noventa pesos, gringo."
We moved on to spend our money elsewhere.
Actually, we didn't see any other spot offering pambazos along the way back to his place so we just ordered food from Uber Eats.
Well, I did anyway.
He bought some street tacos at some spot from a street food dude who knew him well as he has lived in the area long enough.
And I got the Uber Eats as I figured I'd get some flautas from Casa de Toño.
A little bit more expensive than street food but the price didn't matter to me.
It was still only 6 bucks (with delivery and tip included).
Versus the 2.5 or 3 bucks I would've spent on the street for a pambazo and some chips on the side.
But that's the thing that Latin Americans don't get.
Let me get into a few more examples before driving home the point.
A Late Night Taxi Ride
Not too long ago, I went to a house party near Agricola Oriental area of Mexico City.
The party was fun.
Then it was time to go home.
Obviously, the metro wasn't working past midnight (it was closer to 2 or 3 AM).
And we got a taxi (I shared it with a local Mexican gal I have known for a while).
Given she is Mexican and knows Spanish well (and isn't white, she is medium brown skin), we had a different experience with the same taxi dude.
We got into the same taxi.
The dude dropped me off first.
Right before getting out, I had to pay my share as was told to me.
Before we got inside though, I remember the driver giving us the set price of "230 pesos" to be split between us.
Which, to be fair, I don't know how fair of a price that is given I usually go for Uber anyway.
But I do remember asking her what the price to be split will be and she said 230.
Along the way to my place, the dude even offered us some cards for his business.
In case I ever need it (along with the usual questions of "U SPEAK ENGLISH?!?!" to me and not her obviously).
Anyway, when we got there, I handed him 120 exactly.
Technically, I owed 115 but I didn't have change and wasn't going to be a hard ass for the extra 5 pesos as I had a hundred and a 20 peso note.
So here's 120.
And the dude looked at the money, looked at the mirror, looked back at me and said "no, lacking a bit" in Spanish.
Long story short, he was trying to argue that I owe him more.
Even though I was told ahead of time what the price would be before getting into the taxi and also the gal in the taxi with me backed me up.
We had a minor argument about it but she shut it down quickly.
Which is good.
Even if you are a foreigner with decent Spanish, it's easy for a local to do "retard game" by pretending to not know what you are saying but still insisting on whatever price he argues you owe him.
She backed me up though as a local herself.
And life went on (and, for obvious reasons, I have no plans of recommending him to others for taxi services despite taking his card that has his number on it).
I've written about this topic before in other articles.
It's not much of a topic but is one that confuses some gringos over time down here.
The question being "why would a local try to fuck me over when I can be a long term customer?"
Take the taxi driver in the last mentioned incident.
I am someone who lives here.
He gave me his card.
I speak Spanish well enough obviously.
Why try to fuck me over when I could recommend you to others?
Why try to win over that extra 10 bucks or whatever you want instead of having a long term client that'd earn you more than what you'd get if your retard logic got you that extra 10 bucks?
Here's some of my thoughts on it:
First, sometimes retard logic is retard logic. That's it.
Second, you hear the argument of "they are poor. Just let them fuck with you."
Third, obviously the perception that we are all rich and just shit out gold (which isn't always true) doesn't help either.
Fourth, you do have some racists who just want to overcharge us for being a different skin color. While the whiter skin color might be associated with more money, I do think that it comes with a racist "fuck these people" mindset among some of them.
Similar to a "you don't belong here" attitude (even if they give you a smile when accepting your business).
Fifth, most don't see us as actual immigrants or here long term over years, decades or until death. There are valid and not so valid reasons behind this but it is how it is.
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
It's a topic that confuses some gringos down here but it comes and goes.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
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Thanks for reading.