Petty (Friendly) Crime in Buenos Aires
It only took me a couple of days to figure out that Buenos Aires is perhaps not the safest city to roam around solo in. Every step felt like being a step closer to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your who, what, when and where unerringly known unknowns. Unable to side step. Unable to counter. Therefore, I made sure I paid attention and did as I was told. Make sure you carry extra cash, so when you do get mugged there is something to take. Don’t, my friend said, ever let them find you with empty pockets, because then they’ll get mad and hurt you. Ok. Carry extra cash to give to my attackers. Brilliant. Noted. Scouts honour.
Yes, while it may sound strange and unpleasant, we also perhaps have to accept and realize that in an unfair world the only fair things some people can do is to play unfair. To take from others is merely their way of redressing society’s inequalities. To deal on others the cruel hand which has been dealt them. Perhaps. So, the time was around midnight. The day was Friday. And the place was downtown. I was only a few beers in when I decided to call it an early night. So, off I went. Home James. Now, getting home was dictated by two things. Economics and Survivalism. Taxis were too expensive and walking was too dangerous. The only other option was the bus. An excellent option, nonetheless. It’s also how most people get around Buenos Aires. The good news is that it runs 24 hours a day come rain, drunk or meteor shower. But the less than good news is that you have to figure out where you have wandered to and then find the right bus stop for the right bus at the right time. Sounds complicated, and it is after a few too many beers. But there’s help. It’s called the Guia T. It’s an incredibly detailed number-colour coded map of all the public bus routes in the city. A truly Shakespearean work of complete upside down jibba-jabba jargon, but it gets you home. Cherished.
So, exiting the bar, I turned left and opened my Guia T. To the neutral, I was just another wobbling night owl trying to focus on my Guia T. To the Artful Dodger out there, I was a complete sitting duck. Most victims of petty crime always say how ‘everything happened so fast.’ Well, I have to agree. One second my head was in the book. The next, it was in the wall. One grabbed my throat, the other emptied my pockets. They were very slick. Very smooth. Quick. Efficient. Professional. Standing there as a statistic in the hall of meaningless crime, I just simply rationalised the whole event. I classified it and filed it away in my memory bank as a life lesson bla bla bla. But then something strange happened. Something that wasn’t inevitable. Something that wasn’t prophesied to me. An unknown unknown. Before walking away into the night, one of the hooded heads turned and handed me a few pesos. When I counted the amount it was the exact amount I needed to get the bus home. So, in the end, in Buenos Aires, what I can say, except that all seems fair in bus rides and muggings.