Sunday, October 25, 2009


Porteños are a crafty lot. Those who are inclined to do such things can steal your watch, unbeknown to you, while you're checking the time. Think about it: If they can rob the Bush twins when they are surrounded by U.S. Secret Service security, what hope do the rest of us have? In my three years in Buenos Aires, I've been through at least two dozen mobile phones, thanks to some of the most skilled pickpockets in the world. I always buy the cheapest one available, and I know better than to get too attached to any of them.

BA pickpockets always pick the worst possible time to do their dirty deeds (not that there is actually any good time). Last night, it was after I had run into an old flame, long extinguished and more or less forgotten, for the first time in more than two years. This is a guy with whom I went out several times before he did that 180 that porteños do so well. Within a month, he wasn't even acknowledging me when we were in the same room. Then he dropped off the face of the earth. Out of sight, out of mind.

Of course, as anyone who has been reading this blog over the past year and a half already knows, porteños always come back, acting like nothing ever happened. Unfortunately, when they do, I don't necessarily remember their names -- or even recognize their faces. Although disappointed that I couldn't place his name, Daniel spent the next hour or so acting like I was the only person in the bar, reminiscing about our few dates, looking in my face for a hint of jogged memory. He took my phone number, invited me out to dinner and promised to call me the next day.

Moments later, I was standing outside with my friends, ready to go home. When I went to check the time, I realized that my phone was missing. Interestingly, my keys, my 100-peso bill, my 10-peso bill and my change was all in place. Only the phone was gone. Either someone was trying to stop me from getting Daniel's call the next day, or bottom-of-the-line 140-peso phones are in great demand these days.

Whatever. I had known my Samsung E1075L and I wouldn't last long (three days short of one month, to be exact). I bought it to replace a phone that had been stolen, although it was well hidden in my sock! Not only was the Samsung my favorite of all the phones I've had in BA -- it even came with a built-in FM radio! -- but my track record put the odds squarely against us.

I woke up early the next morning to buy a near-identical replacement, a Samsung GT-E1085L. I went to the Personal branch where everyone knows my name since I'm such a regular customer. After getting through the line of other early birds who all had the same idea to arrive at the opening hour to beat the line only to land in the middle of it, I was out in less than 30 minutes -- just in time for Daniel to call! "Nos vemos en un par de semanas," I said to the saleswoman, smiling, as I walked out the door. She knew, and so did I, that I'd probably be back before December comes around.
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