Mutual Respect

There is a large modern Mercado on the outskirts of town that I visit every two weeks to mostly buy beer, pasta, and paper towels. They have the cheapest beer in town. The grocery baggers there are by and large an inept, sullen lot; and who can blame them, working crappy jobs for some large thankless corporation? So I typically bag my own stuff in one of the recyclable heavy duty plastic grocery sacks I carry there with me.

Over the last two or three years I’ve noticed that certain baggers are more inept than others; trying to jam the beer on top of the pasta and just generally making a total mishmash of things. Me bagging my own stuff – while practical on my end (as shit gets done right) – has caused to create a certain tension.

Two weeks ago I left my wallet on the counter and was walking away with my groceries when the bagger – an even grumpier old man than myself – hailed after me to return my wallet. I thanked him wholeheartedly and correspondingly left him a tip on the countertop. (Yes, some people I have discovered tip the grocery baggers there.)

Last week, I was in the same store checking out and noticed that the same bagger was working my checkout station. He did something so clever that I damn near missed it.

He put my plastic grocery sack into the cart, then rolled the cart around the station to where it was out of my reach. He then proceeded to properly load my groceries in the correct and identical fashion he’d often sullenly watched me do.

I thought, ‘Holy shit.’ This guy is taking care of me! I left him a tip and gave him a heartfelt smile and he returned as such with a kind ‘thank you.’

It was a  mutual exchange of respect and I for one was profoundly grateful that here was this man – someone who obviously hated his job – whom I had finally found some common ground with.

Living in a Mexican culture as a foreigner for five years has led me to some rather interesting inquiries (and discoveries) concerning certain philosophical matters that have largely ceased to exist in more developed societies.

On any given day we all encounter certain moral dilemmas which in turn force us to make choices but we rarely have the time or intellectual need to breakdown the situation and analyze the encounter, nor the choice we made, or why we made it.

Time constraints and the uncertainty of present western values, driven in part by how our time is spread so thinly across work, family, entertainment, and commuting which in turn has robbed us: obfuscating the qualities lying behind certain moral codes that were more commonly discussed in previous centuries. (I know this to be true because I read.)

This event I just described was one of those minor miracles you’ve heard me speak about in other posts.

The world operates more slowly here so it is easier to see things. But still one has to always be on the lookout to both bless others and be available to be blessed in return.

PS – I neglected to mention an important piece of information – the back story. This old man and I recently have shared one of the same morning combi’s: he’s headed to work while I am headed out the valley for my morning run. I say this because I have noticed he has watched me out of the corner of his eye as I interact with the some of the other riders. I tease the children. I respectfully bow and greet the old women. And I help passengers with their parcels as they get on or off the bus. So in the past couple of months he has reluctantly discovered that I am not the typical gringo asshole he might have met in the past.


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