My mother has this philosophy of living life as the eternal agradecida. She wants to me to throw a parade to that uncle that gave me a ten-dollar bill when I was seven porque hay que agradecer. She wants me to schedule a yearly visit to my aunt whom I have no affinity to simply because she once visited me in the hospital while I was getting minor surgery done, porque hay que agradecer. If it were up to my mother, every day of my life would be Thanksgiving because I can always count on her finding someone who did something for me at one point in my life that would compel me to live in perpetual agradecimiento.
Okay, I get it. One must be appreciative. However, I find myself pondering on some important questions when it comes to showing agradecimiento to Islanders. What is the limit of agradecimiento according to Island standards? Is there such a thing as too much agradecimiento? Will Islanders ever say ya ta’ bueno de agradecer? In The City, when you do a favor you get a “thanks” maybe a thank you card. That’s it. Done deal. Don’t expect anything else, because in our culture, if you agree to do a favor for someone, you shouldn’t expect anything in return. However, it seems that Island statute of limitations for agradecimiento borderline on sense of entitlement, what I call the yo me lo merezco attitude.
While in China, I learned that the mandarin translation for “you’re welcome” is “no thanks necessary.” My life as a York has taught me that Islanders are masters at taking this philosophy quite literally. Meaning that whatever the circumstances, you will find yourself complying with an obligatory request without the slightest hint of a por favor or si no es much molestia (See Tit for Tat). Because such behaviors are reason enough to strangle someone, I offer you the evidence.
Exhibit A: I know of someone who announced going to the Island this Christmas, only to find out that an Islander relative had ordered a computer online and shipped it to his house unbeknownst to him. A phone call was followed to ask if in addition to the computer, was it possible to also bring a thirty-pound inflatable mattress.
Exhibit B: When a friend of mine got married, her cousin was the one who helped her with all of the preparativos from driving her around the capital (called choferiando) to picking up the flowers. As a thank you, my friend bought her bridesmaid dress, filled her tank as necessary, gave her a bottle of champagne and sent flowers to her office after the wedding. My friend’s mother stipulated that she should take her cousin a gift every time she goes to the island porque hay que agradecer.
Exhibit C: I once put this “sense of entitlement” to a test. I took out an Islander out on the town to see if he would ever take out his wallet in a gesture of agradecimento to reciprocate all that I would cover on that evening. After paying for dinner, cocktails, cab fare etc. never did he offer to chip in. I gather that my expense for that evening was a fee paid for the pleasure of his company.
Here is some advice if you plan on going to the Island this holiday season.
(1) Treat your departure date as classified information to avoid getting that brown nosing phone call from your prima (who rarely calls you) for an encargo. If somehow your trip information is leaked, then say “yes” to all of the encargos and “accidently” leave them back in NY. Sell them on eBay in retribution for el pique que hiciste when Islanders had the cojones of asking you for such favors.
(2) When on the Island, lock all your belongings in a vault. Better yet, wrap them in electric barbwire. This will avoid the ever so common ¡Ay que bella tu cartera! Tú como que pudieras regalármela, or the more shameless and infuriating, Como tú tienes tantos pintalabios, te cogí uno.
The verdict is in. If you must entertain an Islander in The City, don’t go overboard treating Islanders to “the best night ever.” Remember that while on the Island it is YOU who have to pay, y de ñapa when in The City, it is also YOU who have to pay, for Islanders have become greatly desensitized to a point where the one-way agradecimiento (meaning the only person showing gratitude will always be YOU) ultimately becomes a sense of entitlement to them.
Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s raise our spiked cider to fellow Yorkies (myself included) who are thankful for learning the most important skill in the world: Saying NO.