Give Out & Give Back / Jane Collins – Clueless


I almost didnt write this story because Im so embarrassed.  But, here it is.

The worst part about our recent vacation to Cuzco, Peru, was being hounded by dozens of impoverished street vendors who pestered us to buy something (The best part was everything else.)  Every time we left our hotel or a tour bus or a tourist site, we were bombarded with offers to buy sweaters, blankets or rugs, all with the promise that these identical-looking goods were handmade and original.

Finding a restaurant was even worse.  For the first time in our lives we knew how Britney Spears must feel being trailed constantly by the paparazzi.  Every time we came near a restaurant, waiters would run up to us, three at a time, shoving English-language (how did they know?) menus in our faces and extolling the virtues of sauted alpaca or fried guinea pig.  My husband learned that saying, No thank you.  Maybe later would bring us some temporary peace, at least until the next vendor saw us coming.  I trudged ahead, head down, cluelessly annoyed at the continual inconvenience.

Occasionally wed accidentally catch the eye of a poor vendor while we were sitting inside a restaurant.  She would wait patiently outside, watching our every bite. Then, as soon as we opened the door to leave and our wall of protection evaporated, wed once again be on the run from requests to buy finger puppets or postcards, or to pay to take a picture of her in native costume holding a baby alpaca or a baby.

I was somewhat relieved on our last day in Cuzco because I knew that we would be rid of the constant badgering.  As we strolled around the beautiful town square one final time, I sighed in relief that soon I wouldnt be forced to waive off some destitute kid and snarl an irritated, No as my husband searched for a poor-looking peasant to give her his Peruvian pocket change.  Like I said, clueless.

Once we boarded the plane with our carry-on bag laden with souvenirs, I pulled out my latest do-gooder book and promised myself a massage for the two weeks of volunteer work Id done in Lima before we left for Cuzco.

Still clueless. 

Eight pages later, when the author wrote about us all being created equally and least of my brothers, the clue bird finally hit me.  I didnt need a massage I needed a huge kick in the backside, a major tude adjustment and a large, heaping serving of humility pie. 

Dont be as clueless as me. 

Get out and give back.

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