Monday, November 28, 2011

¡100 Pesos Falso!

When doing our research on Buenos Aires, two notorious scams were mentioned over and over. The first, is being short changed. This happens everywhere in the world so we didn't think anything of it. Sure enough, we were shorted 10 pesos on a coke the first week we were here and just decided to let it go. The other notorious scam is the fake 100 peso bill from Taxi drivers. The way the scam works, is when you go to pay a taxi driver with a 100 peso bill, he will tell you that he can not make change and hand you back the bill. However, given their obligatory training in magician school with a specialization in slight of hand, he has actually handed you back a counterfeit bill. 

Knowing this, we always make sure to carry small change. On the night in question though, we completely failed ourselves. We were in the cab and I offered to pay for the ride as my brother and his girlfriend had just paid for our VERY expensive dinner. The problem was, I only had hundreds from a fresh withdrawal at the ATM. I mentally prepared my argument in Spanish as we drove towards the hotel: "Manejás un taxi todos la noche perro no tenés cambio? De puta madre!" but as quickly as I could explain what was happening to the other passengers and start yelling at the driver, he had handed me back the 100 pesos and Tom gave him exact change.

I had forgotten about the possible switcharoo, but was instead focused intently on making him give me change. Claire remembered however and asked me immediately if I had seen the 100 peso bill in his hand the entire time. I was convinced that I had, but it was late, dark, and we polished off two bottles of wine and several shots of limocello and grapa at dinner. I pulled out the bill to examine and it looked real enough to me. It did not look real enough to the concierge when we asked him for change however as it was clear in the hotel lobby lighting that this was el falso. Laughably so. It's about as bad as a low-res inkjet print out copied onto a piece of tissue paper. I had been looking for a souvenir from Buenos Aires the whole time we've been here, maybe something nice to hang on the wall. I had now found it.

The next morning we both awoke with a bad taste in our mouths. It wasn't the grappa/limocello combination aftertaste, it was the sour knowledge that we were taken advantage of for merely being gringos. We started to miss India, at least people there were friendly to foreigners and would even ask to take their picture with you. We were used to the indifference in Spain, and didn't encounter any specifically direct discrimination elsewhere in our travels, and we've been to Paris! At least if anyone in India would scam you, 100 rupees is no sweat off your back and will do far more to feed their family or buy them shoes. 100 pesos to a taxi driver is a little more of a hit to your wallet, but more so to the ego.

I blame bad parenting (as I often do), obviously this man's parents raised him to both discriminate and be deceitful. You have a steady job picking up people from expensive restaurants all night, you're not hurting for money. Why did you think it necessary to be such a piece of shit? We're hoping he chokes on the steak he bought with our money. I know it's not properly karmic to ever wish illl will on someone, but somebody has to do it. This is how we spent our Saturday morning. Fuming over essentially something that isn't real. Thankfully we remembered that we had found 100 pesos in the bus station a week earlier, calmed way the fuck down and felt the universe had somehow balanced itself out. Our desire is no longer for him to choke on steak, but our opinion of him remains the same.

At least there's plenty of dulce de leche around to get rid of the sour taste.

- Bill

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