When I told friends I was coming to Buenos Aires I got an earful on personal safety and the trustworthiness of strangers. Here is a contrasting story to return balance to The Force.
I spent late afternoon today strolling around Capital Federal and decided to pop into a café for pick-me-up. I walked up to the bar and ordered an espresso to receive an immediate reply of three curious faces curling into question marks- my inadequate recollection of high school Spanish betrayed me. After struggling to order a coffee and standing awkwardly quiet while the barista’s futilely queried me, a gentleman from the kitchen stepped out and said, “sit down”. I did, relieved.
A few minutes later my espresso arrived. After a couple of quick draws I was done. These were minutes of bliss between two anxious storms. Now it was time to pay. I received my check and placed a large bill in the folder which she whisked away. A few minutes later a different woman, who appeared to be the manager or owner, arrived at my table and spoke to me in English.
“Do you have any smaller bills?” she asked.
“No?…Sorry….,” with my eyebrows raised and tail between my legs.
“No worries then. Go on. You don’t need to pay. it’s OK,” she said with a smile.
“Sorry—gracias!…. Uh,thank you,” bobbing my head profusely.
Embarrassed, I quickly took my bill, then grabbed the torn sugar packet and napkin from the table, shuffled out the door and promptly threw the trash away in a street refuse bin. The least I could do was bus my own table for a free cup of kindness.