It always starts with the introductory statement,
"So I climbed on the micro today..."
So, I climbed on the micro today and gave the driver my $150 Chilean pesos (=$.30) for the “escolar discount.” Here in Chile only the people with the “special” student cards get the scholar discount. By law, unless I have this card the chofers are not required to give me the discount. They have every right to refuse. Nonetheless, the scholar discount is 1/3 the regular price!! With an innocent, honest gaze and a paper signifying that I am indeed a student, normally I can receive the discount with a bit of persistence.
Back to our story… After I handed the man the money, he looked at me, and I showed him the paper proving that I am a student, but since I was part of the exchange program I was not given such a card. He looked at me again, this time looking at me directly in the eyes, and stated aggressively, “If I were in YOUR country, they wouldn’t give me any discount of any sort.”
I was dumbfounded. Although thoughts flowed through my mind, I decided to stay quiet and see if he gave me the discount anyway. He did.
I sat my duff down in the micro seat and started thinking (always dangerous, the thinking that is). I thought to myself, “If he is making that sort of statement, he has some sort of bitterness towards the United States, whether consciously or unconsciously.” Made me sad. Made me really sad.
Not being satisfied with the outcome, I decided to write him a little letter that I could give to him when I got off for my stop. It went something like this:
It makes me sad to think that you do not like my homeland, the United States. Yes, it is true that you probably wouldn’t be given any sort of a discount. However, I just want to encourage you to not have the perspective that our government or the media that we produce is a good reflection of our people. Quite different subjects. I am sorry if you have had a bad experience with an American. But, I hope that today my smile has given you a new hope about my homeland. Thank you for the lovely discount. I really appreciate it. See you soon. Chau.
You should have seen his face when I handed him the folded letter and said thank you. Although some Americans have SERIOUS issues (that SHOULD be addressed), I still am proud of my country. That man deserves the chance to know the other side of the USA. Honestly, I would have loved to see his face after he read it. I would have loved to see if his brain changes somehow. But knowing my beautiful luck, there is a good chance I will see him again before I leave in December. Así es.
(CARADURA, ya sé ya sé)