Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hammocks, Margaritas and Turkeys

At this very moment, I find myself seated at my computer with a decided disinclination to write this blog. You see, I am visiting Ajijic, Mexico located thirty or so miles from Guadalajara. Ajijic is situated between the mountains and Lake Chapala meaning that it has one of the most pleasant climates in the world. Temperatures day after day hover at plus-or-minus three degrees of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

This area attracts a lot of Americans and Canadians, and Canadians never tire of telling you, “We are just like Americans except that we are unarmed and we have health insurance.” After hearing this several times one sometimes wishes to be armed.

For me this looks like the land of hammocks and margaritas and naptime. It appears that one of the most pressing questions should be “prone or supine?” Imagine my surprise when one of the local American business people expressed interest in my Workplace Attitudes Test. It appears that everywhere there are people who will take advantage of the system and create problems for employers.

In Mexico the system decidedly favors the worker. Add to this the fact that some Americans have difficulty believing that other countries are not like the U.S. and you have a cauldron of misunderstanding.

In Mexico employers, including and maybe especially North American employers, have certain obligations to their employees even if part-time. This is probably as it should be but it includes maids and gardeners and others that we might consider self-employed, contract labor, or hired as part of a larger maid service or landscaping company, etc. The wages are low but when you hire someone, in many ways you take responsibility for them. You will be expected to pay for some vacation time and possibly other obligations such as payment into a retirement account or keeping them employed while you travel for a few months. In others words, they expect a certain amount of security. Loyalty cuts both ways and the system works well if both parties act in good faith.

One of the big problems is getting rid of someone with a bad attitude or someone who does not do the job. Most Mexicans work very hard for what we would consider very little money. Albeit, there are turkeys everywhere and woe be it to the Gringo employer who does not follow correct procedures when firing someone.

As I understand it, in Mexico there is something that is called a “Denuncio” where an aggrieved party goes to the local police station or City Hall to file a complaint. This is probably a little like a scene from the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is told “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” Now you get to experience the legal system in a foreign country. Most people simple settle and this can be thousands of dollars. I heard a few stories about having to pay $25,000. This may explain the interest in the Workplace Attitudes Test in a village in Mexico.

At this point, please note that the Workplace Attitudes Test has not been tested or validated for use in a non-English-speaking foreign country. It should work, but I am not sure. I do know that there are plenty of turkeys to look for in the United States. So if you want to know more about the best darn bad attitude test available, please see

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