It was quite an adjustment to wrap my head around the tipping process in Tijuana.
In Colorado I was well trained to pump my own gas, bag my own groceries and to become self sufficient without the help of others.
It took me a few years to realize all of the people here that work for tips, live on exactly that….tips.
That old lady bagging your groceries at Calimax? She depends on that extra 5 pesos you could live without. The guy hustling to help you find a parking spot? He doesn’t get paid on anything but hustle.
When I first moved here I thought, man these guys are just getting in my way…I really don’t need your help to park my car. But now, I have come to appreciate the hustle and if they are willing to work and make an effort, well….I’m willing to throw them some extra coins. Even more if they add a smile to the effort. Everyone can use an extra smile throughout the day.
My wallet flows a little more freely now since I've been here a few years so here's how I tip now in Tijuana:
5 pesos to the kinder, older, wiser person that bags my groceries. 10 pesos if I bought a huge amount of groceries.
5 pesos to anyone who tells me to have a great day as I’m reversing out of a parking lot. 10 pesos if they help me with my bags and take the grocery cart back for me.
10-20 pesos to street performers on the corner, balancing bowling pins on unicycles or blowing fire from their lungs.
5 pesos at the gas station for washing the windows or even just for being overly happy and helpful, 10-15 for checking the liquids under the hood or filling the tires.
Any extra change to the homeless or needy that open the door for me at OXXO.
I figure if they are willing to work, even just being thoughtful enough to think about what others might need help with, well that’s better than just standing on the corner with a sign right?
In fact, I appreciate Mexico more because they do allow people to hustle this way. To me, it seems a little more humane than making them beg on the corner all day with a torn cardboard sign.