When Americans Paint a Picture

I just returned from a lovely trip to warm Mexico. The experience was educational and provided time for reflection. I would like to deliver my message from the eyes of a Mexican worker at the resort we spent our time. Although not her exact words, I am pretty sure if she wrote down her experience it would be similar to this:

The airport must have been very crowded today. The new vacationers from America look like they have spent a long time in customs. They are pale. Many seem unhappy.

The Lounge Bar is busy with people who want to start enjoying our hotel. There are many friendly faces. We are smiling and laughing together. Many at the lounge are keeping me busy with drink orders.

Children have left plates by the pool and the birds are eating from them. The people around them are screaming and want the plates taken away. I hand out my drinks and pick up the abandoned plates and take care of them. One person yells that they need another drink. I smile. I am doing my job.

There are many, many people at the hotel this week. I hear it is so cold up north. I search the crowd for my favorite group. These are the people who say: “Please and Thank You.” These are the ones who ask me questions about me. I feel like a validated person instead of a mere worker. I love this part of my job.

But for every wonderful group, there are those who talk to me like I am a non-person. Sometimes they refer to me as “Hey you” which I actually thought was a name when I first started. These are the Americans I wonder about. Why are they so angry? Why don’t they wait their turn? How come they elbow their way to get to the bar? I am working as fast as I can for them.

Last night there was a shooting at one of the night clubs that locals attend. I don’t know much about it except gang members might have been involved. It was on the news. So much concern followed this among our guests. Are they safe here? Will the shooters come here? I try to reassure them but wonder if they think about this when they send their children to school or discuss the gang and gun violence I have heard about in the North. There are no shootings in movies or schools around here. But I suppose I would be just as afraid as they are if I were in a different country with these kind of reports.

The noise level in the bar has risen. It must be mid-afternoon. These vacationers have begun to trickle in from the beach bar and pools. They are scarlet with sunburn and insistent on faster service. As I carry a tray of empty glasses, a man wobbles from the bar and hits my tray. The glasses fly off my tray and shatter on the floor, shards hitting an innocent bystander. The man who bumped me continues to the bar with his order as I help brush glass fragments off the bystander and pick up the shattered glasses on the floor. I must keep tapping feet of the people who do not move so I may do this. I don’t want anyone hurt.

The clock keeps ticking and the early to bed crowd is gone. Now I am able to focus on my favorite group. If only they knew how much I admired them. They look healthy and happy. They ask where I live, want to know about schools and family, what it’s like to live in my beautiful country. I tell them about my culture and share stories I might not normally share. They are appreciative and attentive. I know I am just the help, but feel a human bond with them. Not that I would ever think I was a peer to them, but more of a person somehow.

It is close to midnight as I end my day. I head out to catch the bus that will take me miles out of the resort zone and back to my reality. My mother will have put my children to bed and my husband has already left for his job at the factory. I tell her about my day and she reminds me how very lucky I am to have the job I do. I agree. There is poverty in every land. But we are doing okay. Working hard is a way of life for me.

As many Americans leave for Spring Break in the next couple weeks, what picture will you paint either within our country or elsewhere? It sure contributes to how you are those around you..

Thanks for listening.

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