Me pone loco

“The A factor.” This is the label some acquaintances of ours apply to anything here that challenges American logic. For example, when I saw a mom drive up to day care this morning with her kid in her lap, I labeled that The A factor (more commonly, the baby or kid is in the passenger’s lap in the front seat or rolling around loose in the back seat).

Up to this point, the A-factor has been an opportunity for private judgment or a shoulder shrug. Today it got under my skin.

DSC_0094In almost any store, even a big grocery store, one can be expected to provide close to exact change. The first time I got a pedicure—and it was a strange experience for a few reasons—the woman could not make the equivalent of $4 in change, even after rummaging around in her purse, so she sold me a nail file I didn’t need. When paying for a pastry that costs two and a half pesos, I am not surprised to hand the cashier a five peso bill and hear “Do you have 50 centavos?”

This afternoon, Lou and I needed to take a remise to tae kwon do class and I wasn’t going to risk handing the driver a 100 peso bill (about $20) for a ride that cost $4. So on the way home from school I decided to buy Lou a gaseosa (soft drink) at a kiosco to break the 100 peso bill. For good measure, I put two bottles on the counter: 14 pesos ($3). The cashier asked if I had anything smaller than the 100, and I said no. He looked in is his till and dug in his pockets and, apparently coming up short on coins, asked if I had a peso. No. Another guy working in the store didn’t have one either, so Guy #1 threw up his hands as in, “What can I do?” It turned out Guy #2 did have a peso down in the depths of his pocket lint, so I was able to leave without further incident, but Guy #1 acted seriously put out. Whaaa?

3 thoughts on “Me pone loco

  1. rootsinthecity

    Reminds me of Riga! Maybe things were better by the time you got there, but there were times when people would simply refuse to sell me something because I didn’t have change. I’d go to Narvesen and buy a Daim candy bar whenever I needed to break a bill that might stymy the local businesses.


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