Monthly Archives: February 2019

Lesson learned – a question of who to trust

Yesterday as I picked up a few essentials at Super Lake, bemoaning the fact that I had thirteen dollars left until my pensions come in at the end of the month and wondering how I was going to make it, and, yes, feeling sorry for myself, when I came out of the store I noticed a young girl standing just outside the entrance. She had a crude cardboard sign with English and Spanish scrawled on it saying “please help me. I need food for my baby”.

It’s a sad fact of life here that Mexicans are forced to beg. Kids are often trying to sell you something. Ladies sit outside places like Super Lake with a cup in their hands hoping you will give them a few pesos. The vast majority of Mexicans live in abject poverty.

As I came out I reached into my pocket and gave her the few coins I had planned for the bus. I couldn’t carry what I had on the bus so I was going to need my driver to come and get me, something I could ill afford.

As I stood outside waiting for him I watched person after person just ignores this girl, not even returning the hello she said to them. They saw her sign but just walked by her. As usual with Super Lake, there were no locals coming out because they can’t afford to shop there. I wondered if local folks would ignore a woman begging for food for her baby?

After a few minutes watching this I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked her to come back to the store with me to get some food for her baby. I told her I was not a rich American so I couldn’t get her very much but I would try. She got bread and some small jars of baby food and I treated her to some chocolate for herself. It was only a couple hundred pesos.

She was thrilled at this very small gesture. She told me her name was Melissa and she showed me a picture of her baby, Daniel Alexander. I gave her my card and told her that if she ever faced a day when she had no food to come to my place and I would feed her something. She couldn’t stop smiling and even helped me with my groceries when my driver arrived.

My point in telling this story is simply to encourage you to give when you can, especially if you have more money than you need. The locals are an admirable, warm, proud people, happy with little but when someone like Melissa needs our help please give. It will make you feel very good, as it did for me.

As that old radio program used to say, “And now for the rest of the story.” Oh, and this is a good one. If all you get out of it is how stupid I am, well, you are SO right.

First, Melissa called me yesterday and asked to meet me at Super Lake so I could buy her more food for her “baby”. I told her it wouldn’t be much because I don’t have it to give her but I would buy some for her. I said I would be there around 3:30 and we agreed to meet. She wasn’t there but called me later to tell me she was now at Super Lake and expected me to come back. I said no but told her if she came to my house I would give her a little money. Big mistake!

She showed up a while later with a friend in tow, no doubt because she didn’t want to be alone with a man in his apartment, regardless of the fact that I could be her grandfather. So be it. I understood. I fed both of them. Her friend and I went out on the terrace to have a smoke and Melissa asked where my broom was because she was going to do some cleaning for me for the money I gave her. Nice, I thought. Then she said they had to go because her “baby” was sick. We said our goodbyes.

Oh, read on. This gets a lot juicier. A little while later her friend came back alone. Needless to say, I wondered why. I thought she might have forgotten something. She then tells me that Mellissa had shown her my diamond ring and said she was going to sell it! Sure enough, I checked and it was gone! This was the thanks I got for helping her?

We called the police who showed up fairly quickly. They took all the information and then told me to call Uber to take us to the Chapala police station where they would meet us and then go to Melissa’s house together. When her friend and I arrived at the police station it was closed. No sight of the two officers that came to my apartment. An officer outside said we couldn’t do anything more tonight and we had to come back in the morning.

I figured that my thousand dollar ring would be sold by then so I convinced her friend to go to her house and confront Melissa to give back my ring or she could deal with the police tomorrow. She didn’t answer the door and when her friend called her on my driver’s phone so she wouldn’t recognize the number she hung up on her. Now the plan is to go to her house in the morning with her friend and the police to confront her to get my ring back. No doubt she has either sold the ring by then or will simply deny she stole it. The police believe her friend who Melissa was dumb enough to show the ring to and tell her she was going to sell it.

We gave her the chance tonight to just give my ring back and be done with it. No police. No charges. No possible jail time, but she refused.

The bad part of my story is how stupid I was to trust this girl. It turns out she has five children, all of whom have been taken away from her. For me, as dumb as I know I was to trust her and try to help her, the good part is that I know her friend could have simply gone home and forgotten about it. Instead, she came back to my place to tell me what happened and then she spent hours with me dealing with the police, going to Chapala, confronting Melissa, and now she’s doing it all again tomorrow.

I have hesitated to name her until this is hopefully over and maybe I get my ring back, but she works at Super Lake and I hope to be able to disclose this amazingly honest girl’s name so you can tell her she did the right thing when you see her.

I pray that tomorrow will bring a better ending to this story. Even if she hasn’t already sold my ring and gives it back I don’t know how things work here in Mexico. Will she still be charged with theft now that the police are involved? Do I have the right to stop her being charged if I get the ring back? Do I even want to? She’s clearly a thief and I don’t want her doing this to anyone else. I am trying to warn anyone who sees her begging at Super Lake to avoid her like the plague.

Live and learn.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse….

After the police station was closed last night my driver, Salvador, suggested we go to the police station at 8:30 when it opened today. I handed my phone to her friend to make arrangements to pick her up this morning. When she hung up I asked what time he was picking her up and she said 8:00 o’clock. I asked if she had given him her address and she said yes.

This morning I’m anxiously waiting for them to show up at my place. It gets later and later and she has to be at work at Super Lake at 10:00 so I begin to panic. I text Salvador asking where they are? He calls and tells me he is in Chapala, knows nothing about picking her up and doesn’t know where she lives. By now, with all this total screw-up, Melissa has had plenty of time to sell my ring. The police no doubt wonder where we are and drop the case.

A very bittersweet end and a huge loss for me. A thief gets away with it. and will no doubt do it again? For me, my trust is gone. Never again will I try to help a local. Expensive lesson learned.

A final note. Just when I thought Melissa’s “friend” was so wonderfully honest and was being so helpful, she told me she worked at Super Lake and was working 10:00 until 2:00. My very confused driver, Salvador, and I went to Super Lake to see if Estafan could come with us to the police at 2:00 when she finished work. 

Yup, you guessed it. She doesn’t work at Super Lake. Although I am still absurdly confused as to why she came back to tell me that Melissa had stolen my ring, I guess she was in on it from the start. Maybe she came back to see if she could steal something else. I’ll never understand all this. I’m out my ring and there’s no hope I’ll ever get it back And the little thief gets away with it.

If you are at Super Lake and see a girl holding a sign begging for food for her “baby” rip the sign out of her hands and tell her to scram!

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