A Lot of Work for Little Rewards

January 9, 2012
By Anonymous

“Bracelets, bracelets, bracelets. Very cheap price. Almost free.” These were the high-pitched words that came out of the little girl’s mouth day after day after day. She was an innocent young kid who was dressed in the same sundress whenever she was out hawking her goods. The tiny five-year-old Hispanic girl lugged her large bag of jewelry over her shoulder as she trudged through the blazing hot sand on the beach. Because the young girl had parents who did not have a real job, she was forced to sell bracelets to the Mexican tourists to make money for her family. This little girl was forced to go through this daily routine, which prevented her from having the childhood experiences that every kid deserves.

As I sat in the infinity pool overlooking the beach, my heart broke to see such a young child working so hard everyday. She was an adorable little girl with silky long black hair and big beautiful brown eyes. She never wore shoes and it appeared as if her dress was never washed. I watched intently as she approached the sunbathing tourists who seemed bothered by her interruptions. Many people ignored her while others waved her off or told her to go away. There were many other vendors on the beach selling the same types of bracelets, which made it very hard for the little girl to make money. However, she continued to smile despite her lack of sales. From what I noticed, the only break she got was when she stopped to eat her lunch. Everyday she would seek shelter from the blazing sun under the same small tree where she carefully unwrapped a taco covered in foil. When she was done, she returned to the same routine of walking up and down the beach trying to convince people to purchase her handmade jewelry. Oddly, she was alone and there was no sign of her parents. It was hard to believe that her mom and dad would allow such a young child to be off on her own without supervision. I wondered what her home life was like. Obviously she never got to play during the day and I’m sure that what little money she did earn would have to be given to her parents to help support her family. It seems like it would be difficult for her to have friends because she was never home and she didn’t go to school because she spent many hours during the day trying to generate sales. It made me so sad to think that this innocent little girl was working and missing out on all the fun childhood activities that I used to love doing.

Then my eyes wandered from the five-year-old girl to the 70-year-old man picking up sticks off the beach on his hands and knees. The hotel management expected this old guy to kneel down in the hot sand to keep the area clean for the tourists. He worked on the project all day long and he was wearing long pants, so every time I looked over his forehead glistened with sweat. It made me so frustrated because in our country, we would have a machine that accomplishes the task in five minutes rather than five hours. He then would have to lug the bags of sticks down this long path to be picked up and then he would repeat the process over and over until the sand was free of debris.

I realized that I take things for granted in my life. In Mexico, people work so hard and have very little, but seem to be happy. When my dad and I went back to our hotel room for lunch one day, the maid was finishing cleaning up our room. My dad had made some sandwiches and put out a plate for the maid as well. We didn’t think she would take the food, however we were wrong. She sheepishly smiled and sat down and started eating the meal. She not only ate the food, but she cleared the plate until there was nothing left. The maid thanked us and told us how nice it was of us to think of her. As she was leaving, we offered her a small container of laundry detergent that we were not using. She was so grateful and repeatedly thanked us for our kind gestures. She acted as if it was the best thing anyone has ever done for her.

Another incident that I was shocked by was when three little boys were helping their dad pull in fish from the ocean. They had dropped a huge net earlier in the day and had returned in their beat up little boat to retrieve their catch of the day. They had to drag the huge heavy net onto the beach and dig out each and every fish by hand. We questioned them as to why they were gathering so many fish and they told us that they were trying to find food for dinner. It amazed me because they had to work so hard just to feed themselves for one day. I am used to my mom going to the grocery store everyday and making meals for my family, which is selfish of me considering how hard these kids had to work to feed themselves for one meal. Everything done in Mexico seems to require hard work and a lot of time, which really made me evaluate how I spend my days and how blessed we are to live in the United States.

The different instances that I observed while I was in Mexico really made me look at my own life in a new way. I think about how I would feel if I was a little girl and had to work everyday or how bad I would feel for my grandpa if he had to work on his hands and knees in the blazing sun collecting sticks. I think about how much that one meal that we made for the maid meant to her and how excited the little boys were when they dragged in a full net of fish. The smallest things mean so much to these people and I think I need to put myself in their shoes and appreciate everything in my life more. I expect everything to be done for me and I often forget to stop and think how lucky I really am. My life is above and beyond amazing and I need to start thanking everyone in my life for the little things they do.

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