Sometimes a potential kindness partner walks right up and introduces himself. Such was the case with Bernardo as my wife and I sipped coffee at a cafe in Ajijic, Mexico.
Sporting a chin crevassed with scars, a lopsided nose and gold-rimmed teeth, Bernardo approached us with his right palm slightly outstretched. It cradled cheap but attractive golden bracelets.
After making our acquaintance, Bernardo seemed pleasantly surprised to learn that Susan and I were from Northern California. So was he, Bernardo said, explaining that he'd picked garlic near Gilroy and grapes and lettuce outside Stockton for two years.
Now he was back in Mexico, he said, saving up to return to the U.S. with money in his pockets. Which made no sense, because Mexicans go to the States to make money to bring back to Mexico. There's no shortage of jobs in the U.S. for people willing to pick fruit or vegetables—backbreaking labor—for $10 an hour. Few gringos will do the work, but every year hundreds of thousands of Mexicans do because there are few legal opportunities for them to earn as much money in their home country.
But no matter that Bernardo's story had a hole in it. That he was trying hard to make ends meet was apparent. No one wanders from person to another all day, hearing "no gracias" 50 times for every one paltry sale, for the fun of it. And that is exactly what Bernardo was doing.
Susan appreciated the effort and the friendly banter and for no better reason than to help the poor and hard-working Bernardo, she bought three of the trinkets from him for a total of $20. For her, no better reason was necessary.