Monday, March 21, 2011
As I've mentioned before, street vendors are a common sight at major intersections here. While waiting for the green light, you can get your windshields cleaned, buy toys for the kid's birthday, a flower for your girlfriend or some gum to cover the garlic on your breath from the salsa you just ate.
While it is an interesting cultural experience, it can also be annoying to have a line of people coming to your window, hand outstretched for money. It can be frustrating to have 2 boys hurling themselves across the front of the car to wash your windshield when you already told them you don't have any cash on you. It can awaken feelings of doubt when people stand at your window, doctor's note outstretched, talking a mile a minute: "Just a little money so I can buy medicine..."
Recently, I have come to know 2 such people personally. And it has really changed my perspective.
One is Orlando. He is originally from Acapulco. He is young, wears sandals, a baja hoodie and wears his hair in a pony tail. He is a wanderer and an artist. He creates beautiful jewelry with great skill and patience--winding a coil of wire into intricate earrings or weaving strings into a bracelet. He is newly married with a baby girl on the way. To make ends meet and save up some money for a house he wants to build, he also does some difficult baton throws at stoplights and wanders through town playing his guitar. He is friendly, easy to talk with.
I wonder what I would think of him if I didn't know him?
The other is Xitlali (pronounced: "Seet-lah-lee"). She is a thin girl, about 15 years old. She lived about a block from us, and I met her and her grandma when they came to buy clothes from us. In talking with her, I found that every day she goes to sell things at a busy intersection in town. Some days she sells a candy her grandma makes, some days she hauls a board featuring many kinds of air fresheners for cars to sell. "I don't come back 'till I've sold everything." She often comes to my house after she gets done, "to see what's new..." I think she also like checking out the gringa. She has 5 siblings and often one of her younger brothers goes with her to sit out at the stoplight all day. He appears to be around 5 years old.
Yesterday, I pulled up to "her" stoplight on the way back from picking up the groceries. Xitlali was perhaps the 3rd person to arrive to my car, and she smiled when she recognized me. I apologized that I didn't have any cash on me, but offered her some of the Cheetos I had. She gladly took some, as well as her little brother. We chatted about things until the light turned green and I pulled away.
I wondered how many times I had scowled at her before I knew her?
In truth, I need Jesus' eyes.