Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Confusion and suspicion

CCTV catches the incident in Tigre
The confusion and possibility for misfortune that can come from living in a distrusting, mistrusting and genuinely suspicious of ‘just about anybody you don’t know’ society were demonstrated with perfect clarity yesterday in Tigre, a somewhat more affluent town to the north of the capital.

High crime, general insecurity and the constant fear evoking media coverage that accompanies it all in Argentina, makes partaking in a private transaction of any sort something to be chary about. So when a Buenos Aires resident of the Dock Sur neighbourhood made his way to Tigre to buy a second-hand car, he was very much on guard and on the lookout for any fishy behaviour which could see him heading home by public transport, without the desired vehicle or the cash he was going to use to buy it.

There was no way he was going to travel across town with a wad of banknotes in his pocket (that would be taking riskiness to the extreme); so it was suggested they meet at the local branch of his bank.

And so he arrived in Tigre, with his nephew as backup, to meet the seller.

So far, so good.

The threesome entered together, the buyer withdrew $20,000 and they signed all the documentation inside the relative safety of the said bank. Todo tranquillo. But that deep-rooted unwillingness to trust one’s fellow citizen in present day Buenos Aires meant there was always going to be something ever so slightly unsavoury about the whole thing; and the buyer’s nostrils were soon picking up the scent of a rotten fillet of Hake.

‘I’m not going to pay you in the bank,’ said the buyer, ‘I want to hand you the cash inside the car.’

Fair enough.

The buyer stashed the $20,000 in a bag and the party made the way round the corner to where the car was parked. It was then that the buyer noticed that the seller had a handgun tucked in his trousers.

‘The son of a bitch is going to rob us,’ he thought.

Luckily, he’d come prepared. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a can of pepper spray, aimed it at the seller’s face and sprayed him with it.

Now the seller, who was an off duty policeman (hence the gun), thinks he’s the one being robbed. He defends himself and chases the duo down until on duty cops arrive on the scene and arrest everybody.

Battered and bruised, all involved explained the situation while the police checked CCTV images to verify their stories.

This time the utter confusion did not result in tragedy; but the subject of insecurity and high crime rates equals suspicion of all and that can make for a very distasteful society.   

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