One of the advantages to being retired (and there are many) is that my schedule is flexible, and with the exception of happy hour and an occasional visit to the doctor, it’s rare when I have to be at any particular place at a specific time.
I take advantage of my situation to avoid dealing with crowds and long lines. I prefer to go to the store or the bank at times when I can quickly pop in and out. In the States, this is easy to do because there are certain days of the week that are busier than others (e.g. Fridays) but it is not as simple as that here in Mexico.
In Mexico, a large percentage of the population gets paid on the 15th and 30th of the month. In February, payday is the 15th and the 28th (or the 29th on a leap year).
On those dates (and for a few days after), the stores are more crowded than usual and there are often long lines at banks and ATM’s.
The main photo for the post shows an ATM on April 30th. I got into line just to snap the picture and more people quickly lined up behind me. The majority of the month, the line to use this ATM (if there even is one) is only a couple of people long.
During these peak times, it’s not uncommon for ATM’s to run out of money (see below).
After people get their money, they head to the stores to stock up. The lines at those locations can get ridiculously long, and as you stand there, you can’t help but look at the items in your cart and evaluate if you really need them that day or if it’s better to come back another time.
Working Through the Learning Curve
When we first moved to Mexico, I was unaware of this pay schedule and I remember thinking that Tuesday was a great day to go to the grocery store because no one was there. The following Tuesday (which was the 15th), the grocery store was packed and I had to wait over 20 minutes in line to checkout. I spent that time vowing never to make that mistake again.
I decided that Tuesdays must be a bad day to do our weekly grocery shopping, so two weeks later, I went on Wednesday instead. Unfortunately, it was the 30th and the place was packed again.
This cycle repeated itself the next month, except the bad days to go were Thursday and Friday. That’s when I decided to investigate the matter further and discovered the cause.
Let’s Wrap This Up
I decided to share this little tidbit of knowledge for all those readers who are like me and have an aversion to wasting precious beach time standing in long lines. Life is too short to waste it staring at the back of a stranger’s head.
UPDATE 5/8/18.: I returned to the same ATM shown in the main photo on May 8th at around the same time of day. Here is what it looked like: