>He knew exactly what to say

>There are a ton of people on the streets of Santiago repartiendo volantes, or giving out fliers. I don’t really understand why, because it’s a bad method of advertising and it wastes a ton of paper. Where you see someone giving out fliers, you also see garbage bins overflowing with said fliers.

To get to work, I walk along a main street that has a lot of these people giving out fliers. I usually take one because I feel pity for the people working. It’s a low paying job and they only get paid once all the fliers are gone.

There is a technique to giving out fliers. I’m more likely to take one if the person does one or more of the following things:

1. Steps forward a bit to hand me the flier.
2. Smiles
3. Says something related to what they’re handing out
4. Says thank you
5. Blocks the flow of foot traffic therefore making it impossible not to take one

There is this one man, however, who does none of these things. He is in the same exact spot (also a no-no, gotta switch it up a bit), looks miserable, doesn’t say thank you, and stands off to the side pitifully handing out a flier for a dentist’s office. He is there every day when I go by, but I limit myself to taking a flier from him only once a week.

There are also people who hand out poetry and want money in exchange. These people usually say something about how they are university students or actors in the theater trying to make ends meat. They pray on foreigners.

On Wednesday, there was one such man giving out poetry, but I mistakenly refused him with someone giving fliers, so I took one. It was blank, so I looked at him confused. He apologized, and handed me one with actual poetry on it and I laughed. He said, “Look, I made you laugh! That in and of itself is priceless.”

Pretty soon he was following me down the street like a puppy speaking in rapid Spanish about alternative theater and how there is such little support for the arts now-a-days and some project he was working on. I looked at him, about to tell him I had no coins (bald face lie, I know) when he attempted a few phrases in English. I smiled, impressed (it was pretty grammatically correct). He then said the key words (in Spanish):

“You’re foreign? I thought you were Chilean! I only said that in English just in case. Where are you from?”

“The US,” I replied.

“Ahh but did you understand everything I said?”

“Yes, I live here,” I said.

“Oh, well, you speak Spanish very well.”

So I gave him 200 pesos (less than 50 cents). He’s probably not an actor in the theater. He probably knew all along I was foreign and just wanted to get some money out of me. But, he made me laugh and made me feel good about myself. So I guess, in the end, it was worth 200 pesos.


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