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10 Aug 2016

Ask a Mexican: Why Do Mexicans Sit in Their Running Cars for Hours at a Time?

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Dear Mexican: I’m a gabacho living in a barrio. It took a year after we moved in (we’ve been here for five years now), but I grew accustomed to the bicycle-horn-honking guys selling churros out of grocery carts, the tamale lady selling out of a stroller, the couple selling new clothes out of a panel van, the fruit/vegetable guy who really just sells crappy chips, and the every-other-day yard sales. Don’t get me wrong; I love the “micro-economics” of it all; it’s kind of like living at the ballpark. If you sit there long enough, somebody will show up with something to eat. 

I’ve started to not jump every time I hear the “Tijuana Doorbell.” A LOT of trash gets thrown into the street and my yard, much of it from the crappy chips the aforementioned fruit guy sells. The trash and the honking still piss me off, but I’m used to it. The cholos, ’copters and potholes—old news.

What I just can’t get my head around is this: Why do so many Mexicans—men and women—sit in their cars for hours at a time? Or start the car and then walk away for a half-hour? The car’s just sitting there—ON—and nobody’s around. The sitting around might be attributable to not having any privacy at home; I get that. But starting your car and just sitting there or walking away?

Señor Gabacho Con Questiones y Mariscos

Dear Mr. Gabacho With Questions and Seafood: Ever heard of carburetors? That’s what real cars have in their engines, and you need to warm up said carros in the morning in order for them to run. Mexicans have always preferred real ranflas, so even when we eventually get weak-ass fuel-injection cars, we still warm up cars as a form of habit.

While this might seem like a weak answer, it’s based on precedent: Look at that classic Mexican habit of not flushing away toilet paper full of caca.

Dear Mexican: I’m a 64-year-old white guy. I’m one of your readers and a Facebook amigo. I’m a huge fan of Tejano music, which led me into appreciating Mexican music. Then, of course, there are Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys, who can (and do) play anything. Then there’s that whole Depression/World War II diaspora that had a hand in the Oakland/Bay Area horn funk bands of the ’60s and ’70s, and, of course, the whole damn Escovedo family up there in NorCal.

Boy, did I get off base. My question is: Am I a gabacho?

Green Goes the Gringos

Dear Gabacho: Did you ever hear that joke Chris Rock said about black people and “niggas”? That’s how it is with white people and gabachos. The Mexican frequently gets accused by gabachos of being racist toward white people, when that’s not the case at all. Some of my best friends are white people—hell, one just installed a door for me the other day, and I even let him use my bathroom!

This column takes on the gabachos of the United States, though. It’s gabachos who think Mexicans are destroying this country, and gabachos who want to elect Trump, yet profess their enjoyment of Mexican food. White people hate gabachos as much as Mexicans, which is why they don’t have a problem with the Reconquista. Gabachos, on the other hand? Better stock up on the Tapatío as a peace offering, ’cause you’re gonna have to make nice with us muy soon.

So you, sir, ain’t no gabacho: You’re just a plain ol’ gringo.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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