This morning our housekeeper came in and right away sat down and asked to talk to us about something. For the first time ever (she's been working for us for 1 year), she asked for a 1-day advance on her weekly pay, plus a portion from the following week. She needs to pay today for her daughter's secretary school, which fortunately only comes up every semester. No problem.
The distinctive part was the way she asked-- both in a whiny begging voice and ending with "Don't be baaaaaad." Both of those made me want to gag or say "no way" or otherwise respond negatively. They definitely didn't inspire compassion, but I had to swallow my frustrations and remember the cultural training mantra, "It's not right or wrong; it's just different." I hear the whiny begging voice all the time as well as this "Don't be bad" plea. They drive me crazy and seem totally inappropriate, but I'm not in a position to be judge over others' customs.
Second strange event. This afternoon someone I don't know came to the door. That always means they're about to ask for money. If I understood her mumbling correctly, the woman told me a story about how she was asking for "collaboration" in paying for a tricycle that her son had borrowed and then broken. She showed me a very official document about the whole ordeal. I think maybe the "offended party" had taken her complaint to the local judge or something. Maybe. Just a theory.
I turned her down. Paying back a tricycle? How can I tell my neighbor I can't give her money for lunch (although I'd be glad to share from my pantry) and then turn around and help someone else with a broken tricycle? Do these people ask my neighbors for tricycle help or am I the gringo target?