Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Welcome Rain and The Right to Complain

It rained last night. I don't know for how long because I was sleeping but I woke up to see the streets wet. I hope it will cool down now. It has been too hot to walk around in the afternoons and I have been staying home a lot. That isn't a bad thing. I have a private pool in the backyard. But because of my arm I have had to cut my swimming down to just a few minutes a day.

Yesterday morning I walked up to a restaurant and had breakfast with my friend Dale. It was a disappointing breakfast. The food was bad and overpriced. The waitress was disagreeable. Dale and I had a discussion about being an expat and what is acceptable to do when that happens. Last time I mentioned something like this on the blog, someone blasted me for it and suggested that I go do volunteer work in an orphanage. I guess he or she believes that we aren't allowed to complain here. (Yes, there are always people who have worse lives, but does that mean we can never complain?)

Dale said his ex wife got on him once about complaining in a restaurant about the service. Even if it is totally justified, complaining and being unhappy is unpleasant for others to see. So do we express our feelings and satisfy ourselves or do we please those around us by always smiling and pretending everything is great when it isn't?

We are guests in this country. Does that mean that we can never express our feelings if we don't like something? This is only the second time since I have arrived, over two and a half years ago, that I have something to complain about. That isn't bad. Two bad meals out of hundreds of wonderful meals. Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut. I certainly will never go back to that restaurant.

I feel sorry for the owner. She is nice and she is trying hard to get her business off the ground. But she has poor employees. She can't be there all the time so she may not know what they are doing at breakfast. Should I tell her? No. I will just go about my business. One day hers will be another of those restaurants that closes down. They come and go here like mushrooms after a rain.

The main reasons they go are just what I experienced yesterday; poor service, high prices, bad attitudes. It is short term thinking on their part. Let's get as much out of them as we can for the moment and don't worry about if they will come back again or not. So charge them 28 pesos for a cup of instant coffee.

Dale said he was recently at a restaurant that advertised a 25 peso breakfast. He took two of his friends to it. They charged extra for everything that goes with breakfast, including coffee. By the time he got the bill it was double what it would have cost anywhere else. It was no bargain, especially when there were several people involved. This restaurant is owned by a Canadian. Mexicans aren't the only ones with the short term gain philosophy. They lost his business.

Oh well, I am through complaining now and I am going to take a long walk out in the fresh air. It is a beautiful morning!


  1. Great article and so true! I adore Mexico and love living here, and I've also been admonished by dewey eyed gringas (it's always a woman) for being critical of anything. Don't people want a real review of a restaurant or vacation spot? Or would they rather I lie to them and just tell them, "yeah, go ahead and have your vacation in that shithole... uh, I mean, oh never mind, have a good time, wink wink." It's ridiculous. Like zero tolerance policies at school in the U.S. where a kid will get expelled for taking a Midol. Be reasonable and have some common sense. Yes, people who whine all the time are annoying. That's a different category. But having the ability for critical thinking and sharing ones actual experiences is a GOOD thing. In fact, I'm going to utilize this skill of mine right now. Here it is: pssst... some people are just idiots.

  2. Hi Leslie, Thank you for writing and honestly sharing your feelings on this subject. I appreciate that. Patricia

  3. Yes we have a right to complain, I think it is all in how we do it, 28 pesos for a cup of instant coffee that is way out of line, like you said she won't be in business long, and why on earth is she serving instant coffee? When things like this happen to us I say lesson learned ! Like you said you won't be back. Hope your arm is feeling better.

  4. Thank you Cheryl. I always appreciate what you have to say. Your friend, Patricia

  5. I worked hard for my money & as a legal person here nobody has a right to rip me off. I've been in customer service businesses for decades & know how difficult it can be but service people have to suck it up when they get jerks & have an obligation not to take it out on everyone else.
    Too bad you didn't name the place.

  6. Hi Ginger, Thanks for writing. I don't like to say bad things about places, even though they have given me poor service. They will go out of business soon enough without my help. Patricia