.... you have extra money? Especially when you first chat with them. Or indicate most Americans and Canadians in their perspective countries have extra money to spend on luxurious living?
Around the neighborhood and in stores and such, I usually don't have many experiences that make me think that they have that impression of me (although there have been a couple times).
The real 'slap-in-the-face' experience that I had was when I opened my latest business 3 months ago. For starters, my wife went first to speak to the landlady about renting the place, so that I could get a true rent price. When I went to close the deal a week later, with cash in hand, she tried to raise the rent on me $500 pesos after getting past her awe that I am an American. I almost walked out the door, and she became more reasonable and backed down on the additional $500. She also tried to tell me I'd have to pay certain municipal fees through her and that the electric company gives them a flat rate of $1000/month. I guess she thought that since this was the first time she saw me, it must be my first day in Mexico...
But it gets better - the landlady is the local rumor mill for the pueblo. Shortly after opening, many clients were telling me word for word that they all heard the same thing from her: The ****** is only here and has the business for fun, he has so much money it doesn't even matter to him. Most were convinced after some thought about the risk I take as well as looking at my clothes/vehicle that that's not the case.
The stories ended up reaching who I call the municipal extortionist, who calls himself an inspector. Rumor has it he was running around talking to others about how he was going to leave with a fat wallet after talking with me. He came one Saturday night, and said I could pay a permission to stay open 8 hours later with the president for $7000, or for only
$4000 I could pay him for his word that he wouldn't come by (since he's supposedly the one who enforces such things). Mind you I only open 3 days/week, and my business permit for the year had a cost of ~$2500. I told him I'd rather not pay anyone and just close at the correct time. After back and forth with him telling me it wasn't an option to not have the additional "permit", I showed him the security camera I have outside recording our meeting and he decided to leave. If only he knew the camera wasn't hooked up yet.
But it doesn't stop there...the next weekend the local police commander came by and informed me that police services in the area carry a charge of $100/week for businesses and that I owe him 3 weeks already. I said that would be fine, that I'd remit payment in the morning to the ministro publico in xalapa (this is while I am jotting down his car #) - to which I was told that everything seems to be in order and there would be no need to make any payments. Later I found out the police commander is the landlady's son-in-law...what a coincidence.
Still, 3 months later, I am fending off rumors of my supposed riches. When customers start the talk, I usually can explain how its just not true. As far as the landlady, I have her locked in contracts and have receipts for every peso paid. I've given up trying to convince her otherwise, and now use the 'rich-******' idea against them. I frequently tell her that the next official that comes by to try to extort money will be sorry, that I'll use every peso I have to be sure they get prosecuted (not true). I know she'll spread that statement, and so far its worked, because I haven't had any more problems.
Its kind of amazing to me to have so many people think I've got piles of money laying around. Even when confronted with clear cut evidence that its not true, convincing some is near impossible. To those, as long as it doesn't affect me, I end up just throwing up my hands and letting them think what they want. Just another stereotype that people plop me into that has no truth.