Unfortunately not everything is pure peach ice cream – from time to time we come upon a situation that isn’t as it appears.
Back in March I heard about a Mexican man who had served in the military in the United States and then later had been deported. The story seemed perfect for one of the chapters of the book on immigration I’m working on. During his interview he told me his story and showed me his papers. He was convincing, and frankly if the story he told wasn’t his, it was someone’s – my further research confirms much of what he related regarding his deportation.
So far so good, right? I was impressed with his intelligence and his sincerity. I felt badly that my government had treated him so unfairly. So, when he told me that he needed 800 pesos to finish a training course that would certify him to teach English as a second language, and that he already had a job lined up, I dug into my purse, paid our coffee bill and managed to count out the amount he needed. I felt really good for helping another human being anxious to better his life.
I felt good about him and his quest for a better life until friends started mentioning that they’d met the guy that I was writing about, and that when he said he was my friend that they had helped him with his need-of-the-day.
Then I talked with Terry Vidal, the executive director of the LCS, and discovered that both of us had given the guy the 800 pesos he “needed for school” during the same week. That was in March. It’s now three months later and both Vidal and I continue to hear from generous lakesiders that the guy is using our names to encourage other folks around town to help him. Frankly, it sounds as if he’s making more money with his gifts from expats than are people who are working for a living.
And still it continues – he continues to find new “needs” that can be met with the help of the lakeside expats, and he continues to tell the folks he meets that he is a good friend of mine, and of Vidal.
Vidal and I are both disturbed that he has used our little act of kindness to give himself the credibility to obtain more money from expats. This is actually one of those cases of no good deed goes unpunished. We want you to know that at this point this guy with his handful of papers and touching story is no friend of ours. Give him money, or don’t, but please don’t give him a handout based on his supposed friendship with Vidal or me.