Thursday, October 22, 2009

No Complaints

Things are moving along steadily here in Buenos Aires. On Friday I went to Colonia, Uruguay for the day with my boss to make sure everything ran smoothly for a large group that was visiting. Normally that’s not something that is necessary, but with such a large group, a little extra help was a good call. This was good for me for several reasons. First, I got out of the office on a beautiful day and was able to renew my visa before it was close to expiring while on work time. Also, I didn’t pay for any of the traveling (except for a taxi to the terminal when the bus never showed up) and got a meal on the house. Second, I was able to get out and do something travel related, which is always fun. I would also go on to write up a little review of what the group did that day, putting my journalistic skills to use.

I had no real responsibility that day either, just holding my boss’ backpack and shadowing him, seeing that things were running smoothly. It was eye opening to see just how much work goes into organizing a group trip. My boss invited me to go to a polo match and barbecue Saturday, so I happily accepted, but was surprised to find that we went an hour outside of the city to a town called Pilar, at a private estancia and polo club. 

Instead of sitting and enjoying the match, I was really there to help out. So several hours before the group even arrived, we were arranging things and making sure every little detail was perfect. When the game did eventually start, I watched some, but was still acting in a role of representing the company, so I was just standing in the back mostly. Nonetheless, it was my first polo match, and it was pretty interesting to watch the men on the horses, looking like giants hitting a tiny ball across an enormous field. 

So it’s hard to complain about stuff like that, but according to my roommate, who is Argentinian, if you want anything here you have to complain about it. Anytime you want to get more money or a little help, maybe even an extra scoop of ice cream, you need to whine. I understand the art of whining from my time in Ecuador, but it’s still a hard concept to fully embrace. As an American, we taught to do your work and shut up. Don’t complain if you don’t have to, because no one wants to listen to it anyway. 

What you are supposed to do is work hard and hope that someone will notice your deeds, then reward you for it. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it’s just not a part of our culture to expect much from crying about it. If you want something, you need to make it happen for yourself. As I continue to learn more about the culture here, I keep finding out things like these that would have been useful previously. 

I didn’t have to complain to be invited to Uruguay, but on Saturday I kept my mouth shut even though I was cold, hungry, and tired after a long day in the country at the event. Thinking like an American, I half expected someone to see my hard work and if not reward me for it, at least appreciate it. But maybe I need to complain in order to get my props. I’m not sure yet, but I’ll probably figure that out along the line. Anyway, I’ll leave you with a good quote from "The Big Lebowski" that seems pretty fitting.

"So he says 'My wife's a pain in the ass. She's always busting my friggin' agates. My daughter's married to a real loser bastard. And I got a rash so bad on my ass, I can't even sit down. But you know me. I can't complain.'"

Above: In Colonia, Uruguay

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