McDonald's, Chicago, Illinois

When I was in Mexico, I learned that I could trust all the Mexicans with whom I dealt. My first trip I was very cautious on the road since I traveled alone. When I met up with my family in Celaya, I realized that I didn’t really know anyone since I had not seem some of my relatives in more than twenty years and some had not even been born yet the last time I was in Celaya. However, I always felt I could trust all my family member without any reservations.

The only Mexicans that I never felt that I could never trust were in Nuevo Laredo when I crossed the border. They just looked like shady characters to me as they tried to hustle me into hiring them as a tour guide to get a visa and auto permit. Perhaps I was merely prejudging, but I didn’t feel safe around them. I just sped past them with my windows rolled up. There were some people who were outright begging there.

I had flown and taken the train on my previous trips, but I had never driven to Mexico before. I asked advice for my driving vacation from everyone who had ever driven to Mexico. The general consensus was to stay on the main toll roads even though I would have to pay tolls because these were the safest roads in Mexico. My cousin advised me not to drive after midnight. I wanted to ask her why not, but then I realized that I would feel safer not knowing why not. I didn’t drive after 10 pm. I had no idea what to expect.

For example, I didn’t know about la propina, the tip. When I needed gas for the first time in Mexico, I stopped at a Pemex gas station. I didn’t realize that was my only choice since the petroleum industry is a government monopoly. First of all, I was surprised to be greeted by an attendant who asked me what kind of gas and how much I wanted. I can’t even remember when I last saw a full-service gas station. I tried to pay with my credit card, but they only accepted cash. I didn’t realize I was supposed to tip him, so I didn’t. However, he never gave me any kind of signal that I was supposed to tip him and he never complained to me as I drove away. Later, my cousins explained that everyone in Mexico lives off tips. From then on, I tipped everyone. And generously, whenever possible.

One of the things I liked about Mexico was that car washes were available at many parking lots. When I’m in Chicago, my car is always dirty because I don’t like to go out of the way to go to the carwash. In Mexico, the carwash comes to you. I went with my sons and cousins to the mall in Celaya to see Kung Fu Panda. An elderly man approached me after I parked my car and asked me if I wanted my car washed. I asked him how much and he was reluctant to tell me. Finally, he told me thirty pesos. He was going to wash my car and then I would pay him when I returned. He actually trusted me. But I knew we would be in mall for a few hours and it was already 6:00 pm, so, he might not be there when we came out–unless he stayed just to wait for me. I asked my cousin if it was okay to pay him before we went in. I actually trusted the man at his work and knew my car would be washed when I returned. My cousin was noncommittal. So I paid and my car was washed when we returned about midnight. The man had been long gone by then.

I trusted everyone and I felt comfortable in Mexico. I had no reason to be distrustful of Mexicans in general. Once, when I stopped for at a tire shop for air, the attendant inflated my tires. He stood there for a moment without saying a word. I asked him how much I owed him. He said whatever I wanted to give him. I gave him twenty pesos and he seemed happy with that. Anyone who did anything for you accepted whatever amount you gave them and were always grateful for it. I was always afraid that they would overcharge me. In fact, I was so happy that they didn’t, so I would end up over-tipping them.

2 thoughts on “Trust

  1. The most surprising thing about this blog entry is that it is coming so late after your Mexican trip and all the other blog entries you already made about the trip, which makes me wonder what prompted you to think about this and write about it.

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