Today (Saturday) I had the single, most humiliating experience in my whole life.
It All Started When ...
Remember how I wrote about Lupita and I starting our little "business" of selling flowers? Well, they have been selling really well. And so since she's out of school for the next couple of months we decided that we needed to get together to go sell somewhere.
Lupita decided that we needed to go sell downtown in "Los Portales". I asked her, "We don't have to have a license or anything do we? Because I know in the U.S. you have to have one or you will get in trouble." Well, she assured me that we could go down there and sell. Bear in mind that anyone and everyone is down there with their little stands selling anything you could ever want.
Lupita and I woke up this morning to go downtown. I even made us an American breakfast first. Fried eggs, fried ham, toast with butter, and coffee. Hmmm ... sounds fattening. But who said that I don't know how to cook? I do! ... Wait, I'm getting off subject. Anyways, we went downtown in a taxi, taking along our merchandise and our table.
We walked around looking for the ideal place and finally decided.
That's our little table. It looked better in person. Plus, I fixed it afterwards so it wasn't crooked (the blanket covering the table, I mean).
Right as soon as we set it up people began asking prices and stuff. We were all nervous and I felt so stupid. I mean, I was still paranoid about just selling there. Well, we had been there for about an hour and had sold some things when this man comes over and asks me, "Do you have a permit to sell here?" I said, "No." Him: "Then you are not allowed to sell here and you need to take down your things." Me: "Okay."
I turned to Lupita and told him what he had said. There had been no signs anywhere saying that you couldn't sell. Needless to say, we felt like complete idiots.
So maybe you think: "Oh, that's not THAT humiliating." Well, hold on, that's not where the story stops. If it had stopped there maybe we would still feel as if we still had a bit of dignity.
Right after I got through telling Lupita what the man had said we started to take out stuff down. Well, we had barely moved like two flowers when all of the sudden this man is standing at our table and starts throwing all of our stuff down. This man was in a black, striped shirt and he looked ... EVIL. I was taken aback. It took me a second to realize that he was fixing to take our stuff away. I mean, he and the other seven men just swooped in like a flock of buzzards eyeing a dead carcass on the highway.
When I saw him scooping all of that stuff up in a big pile I got mad. And by mad I mean: ANGRY. So you'll never believe what happened next. It even surprised me. ... I started yelling at the man and I sorta caused a big scene. I don't normally do stuff like that which is why I shocked even myself.
. I said, "HEY! You can't take our stuff!" Him: "Yes, I can because we are with the government and you don't have a permit to sell." Me: "We didn't know that we couldn't sell here. There are NO signs!"
Looking into that man's eyes just made me even more angry. You know those people who do drugs and how their eyes look? Well, that's how his eyes looked. But he was rude and didn't care at all about what I was saying (now that I think about it government people are known for being rude). And, well, there were about eight men surrounding us, two of them were armed police men. The fury just took over me and I yelled: "How do I know that you are with the government?! I want to see your names!"
They all flashed their government tags in my face. Oops! I guess I was yelling at government people. I really shocked Lupita. She said she didn't know that I had it in me to yell at people. Double oops. But, hey, you'd be mad too if they did to you what they did to us. And, honestly, at first I didn't really understand what was going on. I just thought that they were random men trying to assume authority. I mean, they didn't look official or anything.
(My dad about had a cow when I told him that I was yelling at them. He said: "What if they would've arrested you?!" I said: "All the better for my story!" I was just kidding, of course. I wouldn't really want to get arrested.)
Anyways, the men were just going to take our stuff, but I think I surprised them by actually standing up to them. And so they told us to follow them to the place where we could get our stuff back if we payed a ticket. Well, we sort of had no choice. I definitely wasn't going to leave all of my stuff with them. Lupita wanted to, but NO WAY was I going to do that after they had just embarrassed us in front of all of the hundreds of people downtown.
We followed this young guy (who acted like he felt sorry for us) to this building. And then the original guy who had told us to leave came over and was talking to me. I made him very uncomfortable because I was staring him directly in the eye the entire time. I asked him how you can get a permit to sell. You know what he said? He said: "There is no permit." And so Lupita asks: "Then how do all of those other people sell there?" He said: "Well, they just set up and pray to God that they don't get in trouble."
WHATEVER! If there's no permit then that tells me that they purposely targeted us and shut us down. It also tells me that all of the other people must pay them bribes so that they will let them sell. UGH. People are so corrupt.
Finally, after much talking the three men, and a woman who had joined them, decided that we could at least take half of our stuff with us. They told us that we had to go in and count all of it though. So Lupita goes in and I stand outside the door with the young guy. They kept referring to me as the "white girl". I don't even look white.
And so then one of the men asks Lupita: "Where's your friend from?" My heart started beating. Lupita didn't answer. The he says: "She doesn't look like she's from here." My palms started sweating. Lupita still didn't say anything. Then the young guy who was standing with me asks, "You're not from here?"
Okay! I'll admit it! I sorta told a little lie. I mean, technically, no, I am not from here, but I have lived here for nine years so I am sorta from here. But when he asked me that I got so scared that I said, "Yes, I am from here." Okay, don't judge me, you would've done the same thing if you were in my shoes? Why? Well, because I knew that if they found out that I was an American they could give me BIG time problems! I mean, you can't legally work in Mexico if you do not have a work permit. And if they knew that I was an American they probably would've made trouble for me (many Mexicans don't really care for Americans).
As I stood there all I could think was: "Nooooo, I can't be deported!" But they dropped the subject for a little while for which I thanked God. I mean, I could imagine it in my head. Lupita getting back to my house without me. My parents asking where I am. Lupita saying: "They took her away!" My parents freaking out. And then myself freaking out because I am miles from home with zero phone numbers (I am serious ... I don't memorize phone numbers). Lost, alone, and scared. Okay, maybe that's not how deportation works but you know me ... I have a wild imagination!
They three men gave us half of our merchandise back. And then we had to follow them back to where we had been selling to some government building. Oh, the humiliation, to be paraded before the people who saw the rapid demise of our business.
Anyways, then all of the five other men who had been there earlier arrived again. I just glared at the one who had thrown all of our stuff down. I know, it wasn't the best testimony, but ... okay, but nothing. I just couldn't help it. And, besides, I promise that I recognized one of those men. He was one who just kept smirking at us. I KNOW that I have seen him before, maybe even met him, I just can't remember when or where.
After about twenty hours they brought the documents ... which means a fine that we have to pay. The man comes directly up to me, "the white girl", and asks me what my name was. I hesitated and Lupita jumps in stating that she wants the fine to be put under her name.
I promise you, it was as if they were trying everything to get it out of me that I was an American. But Lupita spared me. So now HER name is on a document stating that she is being fined for "infringement of the law". Apparently we broke laws under Ammendments 60, 61, 62, 63, and 71.
But now I am too paranoid to go with her to pay the fine. I am afraid that they will somehow try to bring me into it and then ... throw me out of the country. So now I have chickened out and told Lupita that she has to go without me. I will, of course, pay the fine, but I just cannot go. I mean, I love Mexico and this is home. I will not put myself in the place of being kicked out. Although I suppose that would be the easy way out of here. Hmmm ... jk jk. I don't want to leave ... not yet anyways.
Now do you see why Lupita and I felt so humiliated? They were treating us like criminals.
Lupita told one of the nicer men that they should put signs up warning people not to sell. And he said, "I can't tell my boss that because if I do then they will take my job away." He also called them a "den of thieves". Interesting terminology.
Trying to look happy after all that had happened.
After Lupita and I got back to my house we took solace in baking a cake and fixing a bench.
We had a bench that was no longer able to be used and so I told Lupita, "We can fix it. We just need some nails."
So first we lookd everywhere for nails. That was harder than you would think, I mean, my dad has a million screws, but no nails.
I found one! Oh, wait ... this isn't the kind of nail I need (this happened like a million times).
No nails here ... but what's this? Ouch! A saw!! I really should pay more attention to what I am picking up.
YAY! Lupita found the last nail. I hafta give her credit. I didn't think that she would go digging around in a bucket full of old junk full of grease (I even found a spark plug in that bucket)!
I told Lupita: "This is the way to get rid of the pain from today ... work (and banging something to death with a sledge hammer)!"
I hammered while Lupita held the bench together! :D
Well, you can now sit on the bench. Lupita felt all proud. She said, "See, it just proves that we can do anything and we don't need men." I didn't want to burst her bubble and tell her that, hey, I was the one who did all of the work. HAHA!
Okay, it's time for me to go to sleep.
Oh yeah, and if you are wondering ... I did repent for yelling at those men, and also for telling that little fib that was technically not the truth, but was the truth because ... I said so. :D
P.S. Lupita kindly keeps reminding me that only this morning I was complaining about having no drama in my life to write about on my blog. She said, "Now you've got your drama." I'm thinking: "Yeah, I'll be more careful about what I wish for from now on out!" HEHE!