I. Am. NOT. Spoiled.
I just know what I like.
Admittedly, I enjoy a life of many privileges. My hard work, good decisions and good genes have opened up some amazing opportunities. It would have been hard to imagine the possibilities back during that first year out of college when among my three jobs, I was working at Dillard’s helping squeeze women into ill-fitting, cheap, ugly bras. (Dillard’s didn’t believe in bra fitting training. You brought the size the customer asked for. And, I’d do anything to avoid having to find a way to hang the bra back on those Barbie-sized plastic hangers.)
This past week, there are a few things I’ve done that have made me cringe when I heard myself say or even just think it. All of them relate to that viewpoint of American “excellence” that is so harmful. You see, American exceptionalism is not only unnecessary, in many cases, it is untrue.
Asking if the water is safe to drinkThanks to Airbnb, I am staying in business suites which have private owners but are hotel-like in that there’s a front desk and maid service. Upon checking in and asking about the water, I feel shame flood my face.
Our own drinking water isn’t safe in Flint, Michigan. Those lawmakers, instead of addressing THAT situation, just stupidly spent time and precious resources passing an anti-sodomy law.
Since we have done little to invest in our infrastructure, I’m convinced that this problem exists in other cities as well but just haven’t been exposed yet. Yet, there I was asking if I can drink the water.
The worse that can happen to me if I drink the water in Mexico City is stomach cramps and a few days of diarrhea. Those poor people in Flint? Since lead gets in the DNA, potentially years — and generations — of mental, emotional and physical problems. No comparison.
Expecting there to be a LOT of homeless peopleMexico City is home to 25 million people. I live in NYC, home to 8 million in comparison. I can’t walk a block without encountering three homeless people. I expected it to be a huge problem in an even bigger and more economically challenged city.
The first week, I saw a total of three homeless people.
Believing the subways would be scaryIt took me four days to take the plunge. Other than the subway cars not being temperature controlled, the system is faster, cleaner and safer than the tubes I travel at home.
Feeling uncertain about using credit cards
For the past two years, my American Express card has been replaced about once every six months due to a security breach. Yet in the States, businesses are slow to adopt the new chip technology.
Some Americans’ solution to identity theft risks are to stop using certain technology. Like not using PayPal or avoiding shopping at certain merchants. I don’t really think that either of those is a reasonable solution for me.
Here, your credit card never leaves your sight. If you want to use a credit card in a restaurant, they bring the machine to you and swipe it in front of you. Just like in Europe.
Thinking technology access and staying connected might be a problemWifi has been available in every plaza, restaurant and coffee shop I’ve been to. And everybody’s walking around with the latest smartphones.
Thinking all the men would be shortLadies we’ve been fooled. Not all Mexican men are short. It may be that they keep their tall ones – either way, they were definitely worth more looks than I realized.
And they are quite debonair.
Now the holding hands after just knowing you from just a coffee date – different issue entirely.
Not realizing how grateful I should be for indoor heatDefinitely the ultimate lesson for me is how amazing it is to dwell in your home at whatever temperature you want it to be. Whether that’s toasty warm or slightly cool for sleeping comfort, I’m used to being able to adjust it. Not only do I have central AC and heating at home, but also fans and portable space heaters.
Here, there is no indoor heating. Mexico City is in the mountains and has a year-round mild and dry climate — and it’s cold. I never expected that my biggest complaint would be that I’m cold. But it is.
Culturally, Mexicanos believe that you should adapt to your environment. Not change the environment to suit you (how un-American!).
Thus, put on a sweater and socks instead of blasting artificially heated air.
Assuming that a social demonstration was about AmericaI was surprised that I saw social issue demonstrations almost daily.
On day one of my trip, I witnessed road closures and a long parade of demonstrators. My first thought about the demonstration was, “I hope they aren’t protesting America.” I tried to conceal myself as much as possible lest I was noticed (although I’m pretty difficult to hide!)
Seemed it was reasonable to assume that the demonstration was about America given all the terrible things said about Mexico , including Trump’s infamous wall. But for me to just assume that particular demonstration was about us was wrong.
By the way, I saw many other demonstrations and those weren’t about America either.