Stolen Mirrors and Stolen Selves: A Journey Through Moral Ambiguity

Ricardo Guaderrama Caraveo
5 min readOct 28, 2023

For I never bring back home the same character that I took abroad with me. Something of that which I have forced to be calm within me is disturbed; some of the foes that I have routed return again. — Seneca

When you go out into the world, it is really easy to get lost and forget “who you are and what you stand for”. It is hard to stand by yourself and your principles when you’re not in solitude. Yet you don’t want to lose yourself, for yourself is all you have.

I recently had my rearview mirrors stolen, in Mexico City. Now, when you get robbed here (auto parts, specifically), there are two things you can do if your insurance doesn’t cover the costs.

The first one is to go to the car agency, and change it there, and pay a lot of money. The second one is to go to Colonia Doctores, or Buenos Aires, and get (most likely) the auto part stolen from you back, after paying for it, of course. That happened to me just yesterday.

It’s amazing how an economy is created from stealing. They rob you, then they offer you the part for cheaper, and then you feel good about having paid cheaper money for it. The psychology behind this is worthy of another article.

The end of this vicious cycle? Not buying it from them. Having people not have to rob in the first place. Too expensive though, and money doesn’t run freely in all of the Mexican pockets, so the criminal economy keeps buzzing. Judge me, and please do so in the comments if you need to so we can discuss this matter, but this is not what I want to talk about here.

What I want to talk about is just how much a crowd can influence you.

When I arrived in Colonia Buenos Aires, in the car without the rearview mirrors, multiple street vendors rushed to our car. Yelling, screaming, begging, to sell us the part, and install it. The neighborhood is characterized as being an auto mechanic neighborhood. It’s full of Lamborghini’s image signs and other cars with big, bold AUTO MECHANIC letters luring you into the service. The street is filled with black oil spills. And the buzz feels like a market. You enter a world of its own.

I pulled my window up, with a bit of fear of having my phone taken straight from my…