Saturday, January 10, 2009

Poverty and work opportunities

One thing about people here that already astonishes me the fact that people are poor, sometimes unimaginably so, but so many of those same people have no desire to keep a regular job. For example, Mi Amor wanted to hire this woman to clean our house once a week and he was going to pay her more than what she was asking. In addition, we fed both her and her daughter when they were here. She had agreed to come back the next week, but just never showed.

Example #2, there have been a string of people working for our business. People will start working hard and then one day just not show up... or they'll say they're coming back and just leave (after getting paid, of course). The latest employee was a young man who La Hija just adored. He was working out well for the past week or so... and Mi Amor kind of took him under his wing, even buying him some new shoes. Today, he just didn't show up. After tracking him down by phone, he said he couldn't work anymore because his Tia didn't want him to... but he had no intention of calling to tell anyone that. Talk about burning bridges!!

Call me crazy, but I just don't understand how or why people with such economic hardship look at work so casually. The mentality seems to be I'll get enough money to get us through the next few days and then I'll worry about money again. This mentality is everywhere and I really wish I had some insight as to why it is the way it is.

Mi Amor has no answers for this one either. It angers him as much as it frustrates and mystifies me.

That is just insane to me. I just don't get it.


Steve Cotton said...

aighmeigh -- I see the same perspective on work by some of our Salvation Army shelter residents. Some have allowed circumstances to break their spirit. Others simply choose that path. I do not understand it. But I know I cannot fix it. The best I can do is offer my services to help where I am wanted. And I need to constantly remind myself that material attainment is not an end in itself.

La Gringa said...

Aaahh! So it is the same in El Salvador. I've been seeing this for 7 years now. It is so hard to understand. El Jefe finally asked me to remove the word "why" from my vocabulary because in so many cases, there is just no logical answer.

Carolina said...

I know exaclty what you're talking about. I am salvadoran and have no idea why people (specially out of san salvador) are like that.

You will never be able to get used to it or ignore it, all you can do is get mad every time someone doesn't want to try too hard to get out of their bad financial situation. You will get mad a lot! I still do.

It is I said...

This is something that my husband and I have had discussions about. (And as La Gringa has said, its the same in Honduras). Its annoying and frustrating and I don't understand it either.

aighmeigh said...

Steve, you are very right. I think my major challenge is going to be to remember that I can't save the world and to stop getting frustrated about it. As much as I'd like to, I can only help where and when help is wanted! :)

LG, as many times as I'd been here before, I just never picked up on some of the very major cultural differences that I'm picking up on now. I'm sure Mi Amor will make the same request El Jefe did soon enough!!

Caroline, I agree--I will never understand this. It's just so much in opposition to what I've grown up thinking... and it's in such harsh contrast to the work ethic of so many other people here. There are people here who work far longer than any US resident would ever even consider... and for such little pay. Definitely a learning experience for me!

Jennifer, I'm glad to know that there are others out there who are as confused as I am about this one!! :)

Kathleen said...

Here in Peru, most people who work, work two jobs 6 days a week. But the majority of people don't work at all, living with the ones that do. I think that's called "sponging" in US terms.

aighmeigh said...

Kathleen, it's just crazy, isn't it? I've seen that a lot here too. There's one breadwinner in the family and a bunch of extended family members living in the home with them... crazy. I just don't understand why people put up with it! Taking care of parents is one thing... but sheesh. Taking care of grown children who simply don't want to work, or extended family members who aren't inclined to get a job just doesn't make sense to me.

Honduras Sprout said...

Yes, it is a weird cultural difference - isn't it?! It's so strange to see and experience that kind of work ethic. It's a mentality that is learned from birth.

aighmeigh said...

Mama Sprout, it is so bizarre to me! I wish I could understand it, but it's just way too far from what I need to feel secure that I just don't get it.