Small change in Buenos Aires, a story that cuts close to home
almost every time i go to buy a ticket on the tigre line of linea mitre (a commuter train line), the window of the boleteria (ticket office) has a sign in it reading, "no monedas" ("no coins")...
as the article says, like many people, i carefully stockpile my 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavo coins so i'm not caught short... since i don't often take the collectivo (bus), i don't usually have to fork over the coin combination to feed the ticket machine the 80 centavos required to ride, and, as the article also says, i often fib at the checkout line when the cajera (cashier) asks if i have correct change... but, i just chalk it up to one of those little minor annoyances of everyday living...
what i didn't snap to until i read this article was how the lack of small change was affecting the ambulantes (street vendors) and beggars... i rarely toss money their way, not because i don't think they deserve it, but because i have taken a poor family under my wing and most of my spare cash goes to them... but i can sure see how a coin shortage could be adversely impacting those folks... they really have to struggle...
[T]he most immediate daily concern of many portenos, as city residents are known, is how to make sure you have enough change for your bus fare home.
There are simply not enough coins minted and there is a serious shortage.
Staff at an underground station recently allowed passengers in free since they had run out of change.
A spokesman said they ask the Argentine Central Bank for 45 million 10-centavo coins a year, but only get 24 million.
Buses only take coins, with machines eating up a fare of 80 valuable centavos - about 25 US cents. So you collect and hoard those valuable coins.
They may not be worth much in financial terms to many Buenos Aires residents - but they are life or death for the thousands of poor sales people, buskers and beggars who ply for trade on the Buenos Aires public transport system.
It leaves passengers with the constant moral dilemma of whether to give that very good, blind Bolivian guitar player the 50 centavos he so richly deserves to help feed his family - or save it for the bus fare home.
as an interesting sidenote, a good friend of mine in buenos aires knows the bbc correspondent who wrote this story, daniel schweimler... Submit To Propeller