They tried taking our shoes; now they're trying to take our money. On two different occasions, both doormen have asked us to borrow money. They asked for 100 pesos ($7.50) each, and while it's not a lot of money for us, it's a lot of money for them and a lot to "borrow"--"borrow" because I don't think they intend on returning the money.
Carlos asked the first time. He said he needed it desperately and would pay us back. We loaned him the money, and after hounding him several times, we gave up trying to recover the borrowed money. We instead called it even by having him wash our car a few times.
Felipe, our most trusted and hard-working doorman, asked yesterday. He, too, wanted 100 pesos but didn't say why. We were startled that he asked, actually, because he's always very kind and humble. It seemed out of character for him to ask for money.
This might also be a way of trying to retrieve some tip (because service workers want a tip after completing even the most minute tasks). Like a roundabout way of saying, "Can I have 100 pesos because you're not giving me tips to take out your trash?" The thing is, we pay a hefty month fee for maintenance/doormen, and we give them a generous cash gift on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter. It's our way of thanking them and more than covers the nominal tips they are supposed to receive.
I'm very baffled by the situation. Although they're not family, we interact daily and have gotten to know them. Asking for money is a very personal matter, and it puts us in an awkward position. I'm not really sure what their motives are, or perhaps we're missing some cultural concepts here about borrowing money. Whatever it is, we feel like they're burning bridges by asking us for money and not returning it. We are less inclined to give as generous a gift in the future, and we definitely won't ever loan them money again.
If you've ever encountered issues like this, I'd like to hear from you. What do you do here when asked for money?