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Sunday, January 02, 2011

Notes from the Underground in Spain

I live on the third floor and I hang my clothes on some lines outside the window in our courtyard (or patio as they call it here). I occasionally drop a clothespin or two and it lands on a little canopy above the apartment beneath mine. I figure that the people on the bottom floor must have about a million clothespins from everyone dropping them. I remember a time not too long ago when I didn't have enough confidence in my Spanish to walk downstairs and ask the old woman who lives in apartment #1 that I have dropped 393 clothespins over the past nine months and can I please have them back. Those days are behind me. I'll be back in ten minutes.

I was on my bike the other day when I was witness to yet another moronic traffic episode. Some guy on a motorcycle was cut off by another jackass and it all happened right in front of me.  The motorcyclist looked over at me at the red light seeming to plead for support in his near mishap. All I said to him was, “Peor que Hitler” ("worse than Hitler" which I think sounds funny in Spanish "Pay or kay eat lair"). Of course I wasn’t feeling any fellowship with the motorcyclist, none at all. He would run over me in half-a-heartbeat if it meant he could get a split-second lead in his race to go wherever the fuck he is going. The problem is that he probably didn’t understand that I was taking the piss out of him.

Something that always cracks me up is the impatience of Spanish old ladies in the supermarket line. These Marujas (slang for old lady which comes from an old lady name, Maruja, which is like Hazel or Ethel) are always jockeying for position like drivers at the start of a Formula 1 race.  They also have this compulsive need to start putting their shit up on the conveyor belt as soon as possible or even before. If they open up another cash register line there is practically a rugby scrum to jump lines. Even if you were in line before them they think that a new line opening up is first-come-first-serve all over again. That’s OK with me because I never change lines for any fucking reason. When someone politely asks me if I would like to switch lines I always tell them that jumping queues is considered bad luck in my country. I explain that if I switched lines and then that line goes really slowly I will feel like a douche bag (gilipollas). And forget about going to the market on busy days like Saturdays or holidays: the place is a bloodbath. I have literally had an old gal run over my foot before with her loaded shopping cart. 


These same Golden Girls will leave their shopping trolleys in the line and then venture back out into the store to get some forgotten item. I told a guy next to me the other day that from now on I'll just put my basket in line, go do my shopping, and then reclaim my rightful place in the queue. The law of the jungle and Darwinian survival techniques are always on display. Kill or be killed (mata o muere in Spanish)...or just stand back and have a laugh. Why would I be in a hurry when there is so much entertainment on hand?

*The photo was taken with my new 12 megapixel camera and weighs in at 4.76 megs. Ouch! Great detail but way too big for normal photos so I switched to the 8mp mode.