jueves, 25 de marzo de 2010

Accordion Cowboy

The soundtrack of my life here would include a lot of accordion music. About once a week, usually at lunchtime, an older gentleman ambles up the street, playing his accordion as he goes. The music adds a festive atmosphere to my street, which normally only grooves to the constant hum of truck engines.

His music makes me happy and usually brightens my day.

Except for the fact that he's out there at all.

It's no news that there are more people in this country than there are jobs, particularly well-paying jobs. Even in the US, those crossing into the senior citizen bracket often have a real tough time finding work after they've found themselves laid off. Here, it's nearly impossible. And so many seniors need jobs so badly.

Mario's biggest lament about living in this country is often echoed when we go to the grocery store. In supermarkets here, bagboys (and girls) are not paid by the store. They work voluntarily for tips. It's a job traditionally done by kids in upper elementary school or junior high, and it's really not a bad job for kids. However, in recent years, more and more "bagboys" are men and women in their seventies or eighties. After years of experience in a variety of fields, so many of Mexico's seniors find it necessary to bag groceries for tips. As Mario often comments to me, "where did we go wrong as a country?"

There's no easy answer. At least, there's no easy answer to that question that would also involve a practical solution. If there were, Mexico's (and the rest of the third world's) problems would be fixed already.