Monday, December 22, 2008

How I get coins

I've written before about the nation-wide coin shortage here. Slate wrote an article about it, which a few of y'all forwarded to me (Rudy got there first, job well done). The article was a bit exaggerated and overdramatic (really, I disagreed with quite a few things -- it's like the author took every overdone stereotype and then multiplied it by 3)

In the never-ending quest to find coins here, I have come up with a few strategies.

1. Buy a subway pass with a 2 peso note. This way, you get 1.10 pesos in change. Some subway stations have signs posted saying that you have to buy at least 2 subway passes, so this is obviously not a sure-fire strategy. Also, it's crucial to use a 2 peso note. If you pay with a 5 or a 10 peso bill, then you will not get any coins in return.

Normally I use my prepaid electronic subway card, but not when I need coins.

2. Buy train pass from the clerk instead of from the automated coin machine. I hadn't realized that there was a clerk until recently, so now I both save coins that I would have put in the machine and get coins in return for my 2 peso note. Sweet!

3. Carefully plan your purchases to ensure the most number of coins. Some stores won't let you buy something if it isn't very expensive and they have to give you alot of coins in return. So plot carefully. Just the other day, I bought some medialunas (croissants) and it costs $2.50. I go to the panaderia alot, and didn't have coins, so she just decided to charge me $2 pesos and forget the .50. Really, I'd rather have paid that 50 cents and gotten 50 cents in return, but...

4. Offer to buy the $1 peso coin from people for $2 pesos. Yeah, that might be ridiculous, but when I want to get home, I want to get home.

5. I could probably go to the bank and ask for coins, but banks are only open between 10 and 3 and there are frequently lines, so I haven't done this yet.

UPDATE (evening): I just got back from picking up my chinese food. Paying with a 100 peso note, he could have easily given me all paper notes, but chose to give me a one peso coin. I am baffled. Plus, he didn't scowl at me when I paid for my 12 peso bill with a 100...which may have been a first for him.

Speaking of, I was talking -- in Spanish -- to a rather cute girl last night who asked me what I like to eat. Not thinking, I told her that I eat in alot of asian restaurants in palermo (and by that, I mean that I eat at Sudestada for lunch everyday). She asked me why I liked Chinese food. I said I didn't like Chinese food. So it seems she thought I was playing games with her, as Portenos generally say "Chino" for all asian. Anyway, sucked for me because it totally ended that conversation.

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