Shivs and haggling
I live in La Habra, and I've noticed that the local Mexicans have a real affinity for palm trees—the more, the better. Some houses have over 50 planted in a 10-by-20-feet front yard, so many you can't see the house. What's up with this? Is this some kind of Mexican status symbol?
—The Crazy Gringa
Dear Loca Gabacha:
It's a reminder of—take your pick—Palm Sunday, a Mexican's home state, the beach, the beauty of nature, the eternal Mexican propensity to turn anything into a business, or to buy better weapons and no longer rely on fronds for your shivs.
My boss, a gringo, questioned me on the choice of words I used in an ad that I wrote in a local grocery retailer magazine. The article informed the reader that my company is now supplying a product that many of the customers that shop at their stores had grown up on. I stated, “We can now expand our product offerings to your Mexican customers.” My boss took exception to this statement and thought it might be offensive to Mexicans. I hope that it was not in anyway offensive to our neighbors to the south and those living here in the States. Was my boss being overly sensitive, or did I indeed use the wrong choice of words?
—A Proud American
Both. Your jefe must be clueless about the billions of spending dollars controlled by Mexican consumers in the United States, a market that'll be loyal to a brand for life for even the most nominal of nods—witness the Mexican affinity for gabacho beer companies for their sponsorship of soccer teams and Vicente Fernández tours. And your sentence, to quote The Elements of Style, is una pinche porquer’a. You should've written: “We know Mexis. Give us more mucho dinero, pendejos.” Attracting the Mexican dollar isn't something hard—hard is trying to imagine Mexico winning the FIFA World Cup at some point in this millennium.
How can I explain to a Mexican to pay the printed price and value of the product without hurting feelings?
—Let's Not Make a Deal
You can't—haggling is as ingrained into the Mexican psyche as hating the United States. And it ain't just Mexis who won't accept the printed price—read the memoirs of the children of immigrants over the, oh, last 150 years in this country. But cry me a r’o about making people pay the value of the product. You bought your merchandise at a reduced, wholesale price gracias to your business license, which allows you to mark up that price and make a profit. The producer, in turn, marked the price up for you so they could make a profit. That gabachos still insist on paying an arbitrary price for something despite it being inflated to nearly twice its actual value is the biggest question that the Mexican has about gabachos after the allure of Friends.
During the Iraq invasion, a Mexican guy at work said that every extended Mexican family has one person that looks just like Saddam Hussein. Are you the Saddam in your family?
No, I'm the Saladin.