Posts Tagged ‘stereotypes’

Today I unearthed my old Argentina Pumas rugby jersey from my boxes of loot I brought back from Uruguay. And so I decided to wear it, after giving it a good wash to get rid of the Obligatory Uruguay Mold Smell (TM).

And so I went out, to do my daily stuff. At the grocery store, I went in to “la cava” which is a sort of glassed-off room where they keep the nice wines and higher-end imported liquors, looking for a bottle of Glenfarclas. They didn’t have the 15-year I was looking for but they did have a 10, so I took that. The guy was talking to me really slowly and clearly, because he figured I was an Argentine. I also noticed that he avoided using Chilean slang.

Honestly I had slipped up and forgotten to get rid of my Rio Platense accent, so it obviously fit with my appearance. It’s funny, the whole time I was on BobQuest, I kept forgetting to “sh” my “ll” and “j” my “y”, and now that I am back in Chile, I am forgetting to “y” my “j” and “ll” my “sh’s.”

And so BoozeVendorBob babied me the whole way through the process, more than he would have done had I been setting off his GringoDar. Then similar happened during checkout, the cash register lady was all step-by-step with me, handholding me through the truly complex and impossible-to-understand credit card transaction I had done a gazillion times.

And again, at the pharmacy, picking up some contact lens solution, PharmacistBob asked me something-or-other which I assumed was an inquiry whether or not I wanted the “boleta” receipt or the “factura” but it was noisy and I didn’t make it out clearly. So, “Perdon?” I asked and he took that split second that I knew was recognition of the Argentine rugby shirt, and he shook his head and corrected himself, automatically choosing the proper boleta receipt for a non-Chilean who couldn’t possibly be tax-exempting the purchase.

In the subway on the way back home, I got lost in thought and lost track of the station names. Not uncommon for me. So at the next stop, I was craning my neck to see out the window, with no luck, where we were. A check behind was blocked by another train in the station. A guy standing behind me took notice that I was looking around, and told me which one we were at. First time that had ever happened, so I nodded thanks to him. I am willing to bet he took me for a tourist who was lost.

So by simple wearing of a foreign team shirt, you are just about guaranteed to be taken as a foreigner here. I’ve shopped at these places more times than I can count, and never before have I been treated this way. Not that it is bad, it is just different, and a bit funny. No wonder the Argies feel like the Chilenos treat them like babies. Because they do. Even if they pretend not to.

So this means I must find a Chile team jersey and wear it, and see what happens. Or, to twist some knives, Peru or Bolivia.