Cultural Stories and myths–Relative value

Once upon a time, a vendedor (merchant) en el mercado (marketplace) was complaining  about poor sales. The head merchant happened to hear his lamentations and approached. He gave the vendedor (merchant) a jewel and told him to go and sell it, however, he must not sell it for under $2000 pesos.

So the vendedor (merchant) went up and down the mercado (marketplace) looking for a buyer but without success. Some wanted the jewel but offered less than the $2000 minimum, so the vendedor (merchant) was forced to decline, as much as he wanted to sell. At the end of the day, he returned discouraged to the head merchant.

The head merchant told him that he should go to a joyeria (jewelry store) tomorrow on the other end of town and offer the jewel to him. Though skeptical, the vendedor (merchant) agreed.


The next day, he presented the jewel at the joyeria (jewelry store). The jeweler examined the jewel at length and in silence. Finally, he told the merchant that even if he sold everything in his store, he would not have enough to buy this rare jewel from him, but that if he came back later in the day, he would see if he could raise enough money to make the purchase.

The vendedor (merchant) was overjoyed and gladly agreed to come back later. The final price was many times the original asking price.

A teacher I worked with told me this story one year when I was working at a school that didn’t value my efforts. She said that I was that rare jewel and that only someone with expertise would recognize my real worth and then when that happened, I shouldn’t settle for less like I was at that time. (See Learning and Teaching Year 5)

As much as I enjoyed this fable, it is a hard truth to live by here in México, for both myself and my husband. I have finally found employment where I am valued and although my salary is low at the moment, I wouldn’t work anywhere else.
job wanted

My husband has not been so fortunate. His abilities to build pretty much anything with brick or stone are without equal in the area. He charges $250 per day (which is about $22.00 U.S. dollars for an 8-10 hour day) and he is unable to find work. He thought he might get the job for the new building that is being built right next door to us, but the owner said his price was too high. He offered to work for $220 pesos a day or to do the job for a set sum. The owner offered $5000 pesos for the entire structure. My husband declined and the owner found someone that would work cheaper.This isn’t the first job he has lost to a cheaper bid. Some have come to regret giving the job to someone else. For example, the house up on the hill, owned by a pair of elderly sisters, was begun but not finished by my husband. The owners remarked to a neighbor that the second albañil (bricklayer) didn’t compare at all to the quality of work of my husband, although he came at a reduced rate. Well, that’s nice to know and all, but that doesn’t make the search for relative value any less discouraging.


1 Comment

Filed under Employment, Mexican Cultural Stories

One response to “Cultural Stories and myths–Relative value

  1. Pingback: 31 Day Writing Challenge | Surviving Mexico

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