Cinco Centavos or a piece of candy?
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
A simple but important observation I discovered involves the humble yet hypocritical nature of the neighborhood business. Every purchase I have made at a local grocery store or small convenient store exact change has not only been expected from me but demanded. I can literally see a cash register full of change and yet they seem to resent having to break even my smallest bill. The ATMs here spit out the largest bills possible to meet the total you are withdrawing, which forces the user to withdraw odd denominations in order to have bills smaller then cien pesos. A society which forces you to accept large denominations and then refuses to accept them is perplexing and frustrating. Vendors and small grocery owners glare and argue, until through gestures of turning your wallet upside down and shaking it to demonstrate it is indeed empty, and then finally accept that you are telling the truth and take your large bills. Ironically however, on occasion when they are short on coins for change they will sometimes hand over a piece of candy in place of a cinco centavos. Curiously they expect you to take this without a fuss. I could never see Americans accepting candy in place of currency even if it was as small as in the place of a penny. Are Americans just greedier or can Argentine owners just getting away with making ridiculous demands. I think the next time I do not have correct change at the supermarket I may hand over a piece of candy and see what happens.