Cash from abroad


EVERY FRIDAY this long line forms outside the ATM of the Santander bank. Often the line goes halfway down the block before it disappears around the corner.

This is a relatively new scene, starting about two months ago. I have a theory. These people are withdrawing cash that was deposited by relatives above the Rio Bravo.

They are a motley bunch from the lower economic regions. Young, for the most part, with a good percentage, mostly male, to whom the adjective cholo would apply. Bandannas, sunglasses, hoodies, pants drooping low.

They’re not just from our town because many come in minibuses from outlying villages. The minibuses bring them, wait, and then return them to the sticks.

The good thing about this for me is that the long line usually attracts a churro vendor who hawks his goodies out of a basket. Churros go real good with café Americano negro.

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(Where’s Waldo? Just barely noticeable in the shot above is the subject of another photo.)

20 thoughts on “Cash from abroad

  1. Why would all remittances be payable on the same day? Might be a government payment of some sort, IMSS pension payments for example, or simply payday, although payday is usually every two weeks in most places. A polite and discrete inquiry would solve the mystery.


    1. Clete: As I mentioned, it’s just a theory of mine. It could very well be something else. I find my theory more interesting. Most are young, so I doubt it’s any sort of pension. I also considered payday, but none of them seem likely to have even a grade school diploma, and I doubt albañiles pay by depositing into the helpers’ Santander account. And it all started about two months back — kaboom! — one Friday they were there, and they’ve been there every Friday since. A mystery, actually. I could ask, but I prefer the mystery.


      1. People other than the actual pensioner could withdraw from an ATM. In fact it makes sense sending a younger person if possible, especially for elderly folks that aren’t up to it physically. You know, like lots of pensioners.

        But let me not rain on your mystery parade. Those funds could certainly have been sent from a waiter in Chicago or a roofer in Denver. Probably not, but maybe. Tal vez. Quizá. A lo mejor. ¿Quién sabe?


  2. I tend to think that Clete is correct. Those collecting remittances would be older mothers and fathers.
    I suggest you ask not those in line, but the tellers.


    1. Señor Gill: Perhaps, but since Mexican families are large, and the line is long and slow, I think the mothers and/or fathers would just let one of their 15 offspring stand there. As for asking tellers, the line is for the ATM. If I went inside and asked a teller, first, I’d have to stand in another line, not appealing, and the answer I’d get from a teller almost certainly would be wrong, or the teller would say he had no idea.

      I’ve actually stopped at construction sites on more than one occasion, walked up to one of the workers, asked what was being built, and the answer was … got no idea.

      Cultural differences. This is all part of the feeling: keep me out of it.


      1. I like your stance. It is another of life’s great mysteries. Like the trinity. We northerners often want to know answers to the oddest things. One of the first phrases I learned here (and hear often) is: “No es su negocio” It is a great phrase.


        1. That isn’t a phrase you will ever hear here, let alone often. It is an incorrect literal translation from English to Spanish by a non-native speaker.


        2. Señor Cotton: The trinity is no mystery to me, of course.

          Regarding “no es su negocio” (it’s not your business), I have never heard that even once. In the first place, I think the idea, if expressed, which would be rare given that it’s not polite, would likely be “no es su asunto.” Negocio is a business like a store or something. “No es su asunto” would be it’s not your affair, etc.


          1. In Spanish, like English, there are numerous ways to say the same thing. The most commonly heard phrase and it is far from a polite response is “que te importa” .


            1. Almost but not really. Number one, it should read “metas.” And it would be better used thusly “no te metas en lo que no te importa”. But if we are talking about asking what the people in the post are lining up to receive I highly doubt an inquiry would be met with such a rude response.

              You may instead get a far more polite response such as “¿para que preguntas eso?” or “¿para que quieres saber eso?” Then if you persist you risk getting a stronger reaction such as “no es asunto tuyo” or something similar. Might get you labeled as a “metiche,” “preguntón” or “chismoso.”


                1. If you say so! But Don Cuevas asked a question and deserved a clear explanation. Maybe the other fellow will benefit also. His original post did lead to an interesting exchange after all. Pero de aqui en adelante mejor me quedo callado. No hay problema, amigo.


                2. Clete: Now don’t go and get all touchy-feely on me. You’re a valued member of the Moon community. We embrace diversity.

                  By the way, the very last item in today’s post on socialism is about to go into effect, so I may not be around to pass along your pithy observations to the light of day for a spell. I don’t travel well-connected to today’s modern, internet world.


  3. Thinking about it, I have actually seen lines like that here in Phoenix. That occurs on days when the EBT cards are funded or a large local employer drops in the payroll.

    Do you suppose some local company is direct depositing the payroll?


    1. Señor Gill: My very first thought on noticing this phenomenon was exactly that. Some company was depositing payroll in these people’s accounts and they are withdrawing. It was, however, a fleeting notion. A focused glance at these lines and the very marginal people in them is proof positive that they do not have employment on that level.

      If they have steady work of any sort, which I doubt, they would get paid in cash. Cash is very common down here. No, this is something else.


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