Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Most Hated Gringo in the World -- 30

a: A person of local or restricted interests or outlook b: a person lacking urban polish or refinement -- Webster's.

It can refer to someone who has a limited, restricted, or non-sophisticated mentality or habits, stereotypical of an inhabitant of "the provinces" (areas distant from the national capital) -- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The only explanation I can offer for many of the most amazing examples of the behavior of "some" Guanajuatenses (those born and bred in Guanajuato) is provincialism. Now, when I say "some" Guanajuatenses are Provincial, I do so to stave off the 1.5 billion emails I will get from the Bubble People (Americans who live in Gringolandia) who will call me all known profanities as well as give me a generous dishing out of death threats.

In realty, I believe that most, if not the majority, of Guanajuato defines provinciality.

The clause, … has a limited, restricted, or non-sophisticated mentality or habits, stereotypical of an inhabitant of the provinces... is what I want to write about today.

Car ownership in Guanajuato is one of the most bizarre things in this culture to observe. Here you have a town in which owning a car is, at least for those living in El Centro, not necessary. The exceptions are, of course, those who live here and have to work in Silao, Leon, or Irapuato. These folks (and we know a lot of them personally) have to drive a car.

The rest of the Guanajuatenses drive, drive, and drive some more when it is not necessary at all. Car ownership for them is not so much needed as it is craved.

A study done in Mexico City found that car owners owned cars for the reputation of owning cars. It wasn't that they needed them; it was to put on airs for the neighbors. You are considered a modern Mexican if you own a car.

PROVINCIALTY: a limited, restricted, or non-sophisticated mentality

Cars are killing the environment and the people who have to live in it but they drive to prove they are modern. It is a matter of increasing one's social standing or class. I asked this Mexican pal why he owned a car and drove it instead of taking public transportation.

Convenience was the man's answer.

The truth is that on almost any day of the week in Guanajuato you can easily witness the most intense traffic jams with cars, taxis, and buses belching bluish-black smoke into the air. In a city that was designed for pedestrian (walking) traffic, you can also witness many pedestrians who have had to don blue surgical masks to protect themselves from the heart-stopping and lung-melting car exhaust. Convenience?

Another thing you will see is a prime example of the angelic patience Mexicans seem to be renowned for in the Gringolandians' web sites and books. These Bubble People will tell you things like:

The people here seem to have the ability to enjoy life, be more hospitable, more respectful of their fellow man.

The woman who made this quote (her name is "Barbie") apparently lives in some other Mexico that I've never heard of in my life.

Someone who talks of the infamous Mexican patience and "the ability to enjoy life" has not ridden in a car with a Mexican driver or watched and listened to Mexicans in cars.

I am supposing here that in the Mexican Driver's Handbook, drivers in Guanajuato missed the section that made the point that "Traffic Jams" would be something with which they would have to contend when driving a car in a city that is not equipped to handle thousands upon thousands of cars that are not needed.

Whatever Mexican patience Gringolandians refer to doesn't exist when a Guanajuatense gets behind the wheel of a car.

Though never arriving on time for anything, Mexicans, when walking on a sidewalk or driving a car encounter someone in front of them, lay on the horn and scream such epithets out the window like,

"You poorly-educated and ill-raised heathen, get the hell out of my way…"

Or something to that effect.

It is truly a mystery worthy of an episode or maybe even an entire documentary on the History or Sci-Fi Channel.

Mexicans will never, ever, get to an appointment on time. And yet, they walk down a sidewalk like someone is chasing them. The drivers drive like they are the ones chasing the pedestrians.

It is an incomprehensible phenomenon. Scientists from all the civilized countries of the world should send teams of researchers to figure this out!

When Guanajuatense Mexicans walk (run as if their hair is on fire) down a sidewalk or drive a car, they can't stand the thought, I can only guess, that someone is in front of them. It must trigger some sort of primordial something or other in them and they will push past you on a sidewalk (I mean push in the most literal sense) or lay on the horn until you get out of their way.

Just this morning, I was walking to the neighborhood store when I witnessed a very salient example.

A lady in a cream-colored sedan had somehow parked (the wrong way, if you must know) in front of a hardware store. Parked the correct way was a truck in back of her car and a large, whale-sized Coca-cola delivery truck that was also parked the right way in front of her. There was no room to get out no matter what feat she resorted to. And, you can bet the farm on the fact she was not in a hurry to get anywhere on time…so, what did she do?

She honked.

The woman laid on the horn as though she had just had a heart attack and was slumped in a heap against the steering wheel. I know this wasn't the case because I stood with the policemen who were standing outside their little police shack watching her. I stood with them as this woman gesticulated wildly and screamed something that sounded vaguely like she wanted the police to come over and do something. The police, now get this, waved at her as though exchanging friendly salutations.

I just love this country!

My landlady is another example. I actually love riding with her when she's driving. While tootling down a street, she will honk at every cross street when there is a car trying to make a left or right turn onto the street she is driving. In parking lots, she NEVER stops to allow someone to back up. Instead, she honks and makes the person pull back into the parking slot so she can pass. When coming up our dead-end street (these are called Privadas), if there is another car coming the opposite way, she will lay on the horn and scream out the window something to the Mexican effect, "You can't find your butt from a hole in the ground…GET OUT OF MY WAY!"

She is unrelenting and makes them back up until she can pass them.

And, if you must know, she does the same thing in the Supermarket when pushing a cart around the store.

She is a barrel of laughs.

So, when you read that Mexicans are some of the most patient and endearing folks on the earth in those web sites written by The Nirvana Syndrome-afflicted Gringos, don't believe it for a minute when coming to Guanajuato!

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