Buenos Aires life runs at a different pace than in the United States. In the U.S., North Americans focus on all of the “rules” that dictate daily life, and things often go as planned. For instance, stores open at 9 a.m. sharp and don’t take afternoon siestas; cashiers have the correct change; waiters jump to attention at any customer flinch; and food ordered for delivery usually arrives in a half hour. Here, I prepare for the unexpected and learn to move with what turns up.
My subway (Subte) ride on Thursday is an example. I needed to get to class for my final written exam, but when I got to the Subte, a mass of transit goers were staring at an empty, paralyzed car. An announcement repeated at garbled intervals that there was a problem with my line to Cathedral–the location where I was heading. In D.C., harried government workers would be outraged. In Buenos Aires, however, people were quiet–looking plaintively around–and silently shuffling back up the stairs. Porteños often let bad news or unfortunate situations slide off their backs.
After realizing that I could not wish the train back into action, I went up the stairs and ran through the sidewalks, navigating side streets to find an unoccupied taxi. I lucked out and found a taxi letting off a señora out at the sidewalk. When I got in, the taxi driver smiled jovially. He was a kind gentleman. We discussed the driving and porteño lifestyle. His parents were both immigrants–his mother was Greek and his father was Italian. He’ll not be driving his taxi much longer, as the driving is too crazy now–much crazier than years before. He does not believe that the government does enough to dissuade a glut of new drivers. They get more and more dangerous.
Though I thought I was in a bind when I entered the cab, the ride ended up being a truly enjoyable experience. A quarter of the way through, I relaxed, realizing that I would have plenty of time to take the exam and that my profesora would not be upset at my tardiness anyway. That’s just the way of life here.