(make what you will of this), but count your blessings

“Tomorrow’s my day off,” Alberto mentions as he serves me my morning coffee. So in case I was leaving that weekend, he was most likely indicating, may be leave him a good tip.

We were at an all inclusive resort in Cancun last week. Our first. Cancun is a hot and humid place. But if you wake up early enough to sit facing the sea with your reading material and coffee, it is lovely.

As the day heats up, folks fuel themselves with alcohol and kids behave as kids do, the pool feels suspicious. I find it best to relax, and chat up with the resort employees if they can spare the time.

Aaron, 53, stands on one side of the beach to keep trespassers away. He lived in St. Louis for fifteen years before, I guess, he was forced back. He made $15 an hour in St. Louis. He makes $1 an hour now.

“Have you tried running over?,” I ask, after we’d talked a while.

“8 times”, he says, laughing.

He points to a deck some 100 yards away and says, “sometimes that’s how close the US interstate was”.

“May be you practice running,” I joke.

It takes a while for the $1 to sink in. Imagine working for a week and making $40. No wonder he tried several times. I certainly would.

He used to be a therapist. “But now you also have to do other things like hair dressing, and I don’t have a certificate for that,” Aaron tells me.

“What about retirement?,” I ask.

“I want to start a business with my son in Mexico City,” he tells me.

“What business?”

“Pigs, we will raise pigs.”

I hand him $5 and tell him to take a half day off.

At dinner, Karina has been our waitress the entire week. She has 2 kids, works from 1 to 10 PM and commutes an hour each way.

Alberto and Felix, who’ve served us breakfast this week, are probably in their sixties – as old as my father.

On our flight back, I ask my wife’s nephew what he was doing the next day. “I’m buying a phone”, he says indifferently. He lost his phone on our last day in Cancun. He’s in high school, works part time at a mall.

On Upwork, I came across a profile from Pakistan offering the same services that I do at work. His rate? $2 an hour.

I’m not sure if Bill Gates actually said this, but it resonates: “It’s not your mistake to be born poor, but it is your fault to die one (in America)”.

Assuming no unexpected misfortunes, like health issues, one really has to question why one would be poor in America. With the opportunities we have, hard work can really go a long way. But even God, I read as a child, helps only those who help themselves.

On my way to Costco this morning, I pass several homes in a not-so-desirable neighborhood. Still, parked on most driveways are multiple SUVs and fancy cars.

We are incredibly fortunate that with some planning and hard work we can achieve FI. For a lot of people in the poorer world, there is no such thing. Life can be incredibly unfair.

I really hope Aaron is able to raise his pigs. And Karina’s 17 year old son goes to University. As for Alberto and Felix, they ask me to leave a good review on Facebook.

I do that, and leave the two $50 each so they can enjoy their day off.

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