Monday, July 30, 2007

Bus ride with Drugs and Phonebooks

Around 7 p.m. I hopped on bus “29” to go to my friend’s house. I got my ticket, paid, and walked towards to end of the bus, as I always do, hoping to find a free seat. But I had no luck and I had to stand for the rest of the trip.

About 20 minutes later a roving salesman got on the bus to sell magnetic phonebooks, a useful invention about 10 years ago, yet something unnecessary today when most people use their cell phone’s phonebook to keep track of their friends’ numbers.

“No, thank you. No, thank you.” You would hear over and over again as the salesman made his way around the bus offering his merchandise. There was no variance. The same phrase pronounced by him; the same phrase responded by the travelers….until he stood by my side, approached the rockers traveling next to me and asked them: “¿Paco, pasta base?” (drugs that resemble crack, and residues of cocaine preparation).

Astonished, the boys looked at him, and with them, the rest of the people on the bus. The salesman had spoken so loudly that we had all heard his offering.

Following the collective stare, the man calmly responded: “Hey… If I can’t made money with these phonebooks, I have to sell something to earn my bread right?”, and he got off the bus.

Now I wonder, is there so much impunity in this country that drugs are sold as if they were phonebooks? How is it possible that every 9.000 drug’s related arrests only 12 cases result in convictions? (data gathered from Special on drugs. Telefé. 24 July 2007. Argentina)

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