Beware The Old Lady

Last modified on February 28th, 2011

I went for a walk at lunch to clear my mind, and ended up strolling through a little park in Palermo. There was an empty bench that was cast in a bit of shade from a large tree, so I sat down with the intention of relaxing for a few minutes while listening to music.

About 45 degrees to my right was another guy on a bench casually reading a book, and 45 degrees to my left was another guy who was taking a little nap on his bench. Just a couple of dudes enjoying a nice sunshiny day in the park.

A few minutes later, this old women approaches the guy reading a book and starts muttering to him in Spanish. I sort of assume she’s asking the guy for some money, since that’s the vibe she’s giving off. I’m not sure what they said to each other, but she turned away and started making her way to me.

Most of the time the easiest way out of a situation like this as a foreigner is simply to tell the person that you don’t speak spanish. So when she came up to and started talking, I simply said “lo siento”, I’m sorry. I expected her to walk away, but instead she came closer and asked whatever she was asking again. So I then told her I don’t speak spanish, “No hablo espanol”. She then asked me which language I did speak, so I told her english. Then she asked what country I was from, so I told her Canada. For whatever reason, she looked really disgusted, and then told me, in english, that english in Canada was a terrible language, or something to that effect.

Thankfully she walked away, because I wasn’t really enjoying the dialog. She then shuffled her way over to the sleeping guy and hovered over him. I looked to the guy reading the book, and we both exchanged a “WTF” look with each other. The sleeping guy had earbuds in, plugged into some type of iPod in his pants pocket.

At that point the old lady started reaching into the guy’s pocket, which as far as I could tell was an attempt by her to either find some money or to try and take the guy’s iPod. I was deciding what course of action I was going to take (I clearly couldn’t sit by and let an old lady rob a sleeping guy) when thankfully the guy woke up. He was obviously a bit confused seeing some old lady hovering over him, and dropped his backpack in the process of being startled. The old lady kind of backed off, and continued walking down the path in the park.

I felt a bit guilty at that point, simply because I thought that maybe I should have acted sooner. In truth though, I’m not sure what I really could have done – I don’t think I could bring myself to physically restrain an old women, so what is a person to do?

Anyways, it just goes to show you that you have to always keep your guard up in Buenos Aires. Anyone can be a pick pocket, and anyone can be a target.

2 responses to “Beware The Old Lady”

  1. shawns says:

    good reminder to be on your guard here. I haven’t had any issues yet (in 2 weeks), but I am always on the lookout still.

    has it been a pain for you not knowing much spanish while in BA?

  2. Duane says:

    It was at first, but I took a few weeks of lessons and I know the basics now, enough that I can order food, ask directions etc. It’s not ideal, but I don’t feel completely bewildered trying to communicate anymore.

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