Friday, October 23, 2009

Big guns makes me nervous

And I'm not talking about this kind of gun, although it makes me nervous, too.

As I pulled into the bank parking lot, I realized I would have to look elsewhere for a parking space. The bank whose ATM I use only has six spaces in the parking lot and the lot is almost always full. So I began to pull into the Farmacia Guadalajara next door -- it is similar to Walgreens, with a big parking lot and only a few cars. It was then that I noticed the security guard standing in front with a machine gun slung over his shoulder. You gotta be kidding me, I thought. If I park here is he going to mow me down with that thing? I think machine guns should be reserved for situations like this:

Coming from America, where businesses are territorial about their parking spots, seeing the guard with the machine gun standing in the parking lot where I was about to park and then walk away from the business instead of into it made me more than a little bit nervous. But there was no place else to park -- no safe on-street parking, no other lot that was walkable from the bank.

So I pulled into a spot about 20 feet from the guard. I considered going into the pharmacy and buying something I didn't really need and then heading to the bank from there. I turned off the car and contemplated my next move.

I decided I'd head straight to the bank, knowing that Mexicans don't have the same attitudes about space as we do. People here have no qualms about sharing spaces, so I figured the guard with the machine gun was probably not there to guard the parking lot but rather, possibly, the store.

As I walked past the guard through the parking lot, I felt like a kid lying in bed at night afraid of monsters, wanting to cover herself up with a blanket to keep the monsters away. I debated between running to the bank or walking nonchalantly, pretending that nothing was wrong. I went with the latter and made it to the bank in one piece.

Completing my ATM transaction was a bit difficult since I was plotting both this post and my walk back to the car as I punched in my money Spanish. So difficult, in fact, that I ended up leaving my ATM card in the machine (argh!) and had to go back for it later that morning. It happens every time I'm distracted! When I went back for my card later, I parked in a precarious spot next to the full parking lot and, thankfully, some honest person had given my card to a teller at the bank. Whew. Possible crisis averted.

So, what is the deal with Mexicans and machine guns? This is not the first guard with a machine gun I've seen in Mexico. It's just the first one I've had to walk past while breaking a rule. All of the police here carry maching guns. So do the private security guards. And the military guys posted at various points around the area. Every time I see one with a gun I think, "I gotta get a photo of that for the blog." But I'm afraid they'll shoot me.

Here's my first thought on this, and it's profound so hold onto your seats -- if Jack Bauer carries a handgun, why do these guys need machine guns?

And my second thought -- do all of these machine-gun-carrying-men have psychological exams before being issued a machine gun? Can you imagine the damage from one guy with a screw loose who is carrying one of these guns? What if he doesn't like my shoes? What if he thinks I looked at him wrong? What if I look like his ex-girlfriend who cheated on him?

Seeing these guys with their machine guns makes me nervous. I know it is common in the developing world for law-enforcement guys to carry them but I don't think that makes it necessary or even acceptable. In fact, I think it is just downright scary and it is one aspect of life here that I am sure I will not get used to.


3boys247 said...

Can you imagine if the Rockrimmon library had an armed guard out front? "Hey, your car was here longer than 20 minutes," and then starts shooting it up.

This post is not making me run out and get a passport. This is exactly what scares me about Mexico. Be safe and stop breaking those rules.

Hillary Dickman said...

I think people would stick to the 20 minute time limit!

I'm such a rebel, you know. Rule-breaking is hard for me to avoid.

Jen Wescott said...

I lived in Mexico for a summer in college. I especially loved it when a police officer with a big gun walked by me and hooted at me. Always felt so safe. I always had the thought that if I needed help, I would run in the opposite direction of a Mexican cop :)
BTW, reading your blog is making me want to move to Mexico.

Hillary Dickman said...

Jen! I think your family would love to be here for a year! I agree with you on running the opposite direction of a Mexican cop. They do not instill confidence in me.

Fulton said...

your second to last paragraph reminds me of a quote from the show "The Office": "Security in this office park is a joke. Last year I came to work with my spud-gun in a duffle bag. I sat at my desk all day with a rifle that shoots potatoes at 60 pounds per square inch. Can you imagine if I was deranged?"

Hillary Dickman said...

LOL! I need to see that episode. Scott and I just started watching The Office this season. We have a lot of catching up to do!