Young and curious, I smiled at the children that gave me the preciously wrapped chiclets. I loved the minty savor of the gum as I consistently chewed it. This gum was a simplistic representation of how the children of Mexico earn a living. Although this work may be an inferior position to those of us in the United States, pride is far gone in this city permeated with hopelessness. To the children of Metatlonoc, this was their key to receiving food that night. Many of us in the United States disregard the amount of food we waste or neglect the hard work of hourly paid employees who serve us food or clean up after us. These children in Mexico would take hold of these jobs faster than the pace of a cheetah if given the opportunity.
My family and I traveled down to Mexico from Arizona for a visit. I was very anxious to see the Mexican dresses and maracas. My brother longed to see the toys and hand carved wooden dragons made by the local folkspeople. We perused the town of the men shaving their beards with razor blades in front of mirrors on electric poles. Children with wide brown eyes peered at us holding English signs stating “Ten Cents for Gum.” They packaged little chiclets in threes in plastic wrapping hoping tourists would purchase the gum. My father bought five packages and kept walking. I looked back and the children and slowed my pace as I chewed the gum. I felt guilty as I enjoyed my leisurely walk while they prayed to make enough money for a bite of food. The people there were so poor but yet so hardworking. The concept was unbalanced.
There are many people in the United States who complain about their jobs, sitting in an air conditioned room where they are guaranteed a meal with a set income. These individuals do not appreciate the comfort of a home, food, or drink, the luxury that has become so fruitful and easy to obtain in the United States; it is seen as a simple requirement. I realized when looking at these children how often people in the United States including myself are ungrateful for what we have and overly focused on what we have not obtained. Our technology and job connections are overwhelmingly plentiful but yet many of us choose not to take advantage of our opportunities.
Walking through the streets of Metatlonoc, I realized that I gained more than a Mexican dress to return with back to my home, I gained the opportunity to appreciate my lifestyle. When life seems too difficult, I picture those children and remind myself that with what little resources they have, they create a means of a job to survive. If they can live off of selling cheap gum, then I can get through a difficult test or hard day at work. Appreciation and survival are what an individual makes of it.
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