Oct 6, 2009, 8:55 AM
Post #1 of 7
It always takes two; the "ripped" and the "ripper", the "victim" and the "victor". (the victor is not such to the victim, but certainly to his friends and family!).
Don't be a victim, and when you are, don't blame everyone else! Here are some prevention techniques.
1. No fat wallets! Use a very skinny holder for half a dozen plastic cards and keep money elsewhere, big pesos in one pocket, small pesos in another, passport and FM3 somewhere else.
2. Buy and wear pants and shirts with zipper, velcro or button pockets, the more the better. Travelsmith and others have pants with hidden zippers or pockets in pockets. Or add your own buttons or velcro.
3. Put nothing valuable in back pockets. Never wear fanny or fronty packs unless they are full of used kleenex.
4. Ladies, buy clothes with pockets! Purses are magnets for banditos. Try to not carry a purse or if you must, don't put valuable paper and money in the purse; hide them in a secure pocket.
5. Don't dress and act like a rich gringo. Dress more like Mexicans; avoid shorts and tank tops in public and try to blend in, not stand out.
6. Avoid fancy jewelry or watches. Even if they are costume pieces, if they look rich, then then so do you. The best is no jewelry at all. No big-diamond wedding rings or Rolex watches.
7. If you accept help, pull the tip out in advance, not at the last minute. Watch while your car is loaded to make sure nothing is accidentally missed.
8. Learn the forefinger vertical wag; it means no, and even windshield washers tend to honor it. (make sure you don't get the wrong finger!)
9. Don't smile and grin at everyone (ladies especially!). It identifies you as a naive gringo target. Men, learn an appropriate deadpan or even a scowl.
10. Appreciate talent! If they outsmart you and get your goodies, they are not "idiots"; they are just better at getting than you are at keeping. They may be crooks to you, but they are heroes to their hungry children. Don't blame others for your carelessness; it's not them, it's you. Grow up. Take responsibility.
11. Body language speaks large. Don't walk hesitatingly or uncertain. Walk firm and sure. Stand tall. Look others square in the eye or deliberately ignore them. When hustled or solicited, do not engage; either ignore or give a brisk "no gracias". They are not your friends!
12. If you do engage, do it with class, not with disdain. Mexicans are naturally social; try to be a part of their culture; Respect that it's their country and that, tourist or expat, it's still their country and culture.
13. Listen and learn. The scams are common and repeated, passed down from generation to youth, pickpockets, purse snatches, lotto hustles, counterfeits, ATM grabs, spiked drinks, father-son pairs, lovely girls and handsome guys and crippled beggars, the smoke-under-your-car, thumb-on-the-scale, and gas pump that did not reset, the miscalculation on change, the overcharge, the servicio already on the tab, and on and on and on. These are not Mexican tricks, but universal survival skills in all countries and all cultures. Pay attention and listen and learn.
14. Report every crime or petty theft or scam to everyone you can. Yes it's a hassle and it's embarrassing, but un-reporting perpetuates the behavior. If enough people report often enough and to enough people, including the media, things will change. Your silence will change nothing.
15. Do not be a victim. Every victim encourages encourages more shady behavior. If it were not profitable, "they" would not be there; if gringos were not such easy targets, the profession would shrink in numbers. As Pogo put it: "We have met the enemy, and they is us".