The problem with roommates is universal. Some people are simply not able to live with anyone else, and that’s why they should be confined to places where no one has to deal with them. So I’m not going to talk about that kind of people. Sociology or anthropology should take care of them. I dedicate my life to the study of Porteño behavior, so I’m going to talk about this group of people in particular.
Let’s just say that you are blonde and that you came from a place where Spanish is not the native language. You have been living in a hostel for 2 weeks and you’ve decided to stay longer. You think that a good way to learn the language/culture or simply to have your own room, is to share a house with the locals. You’ve done this in other countries, so there’s nothing to worry about.
You’ve met a lot of Porteños in bars (mostly in Palermo or San Telmo) and you think they are the friendliest people on earth. What could go wrong living with one of these cheerful creatures for a month or two?
You check out some places until you decide to stay in one of them.
Your living-with-Porteños experience is about to begin.
There are a lot of different types, I’m going to expose just a few.
You are going to live with these 2 Porteños/as who of course attend the UBA (University of Buenos Aires). They seem pretty smart. You are an exchange student and you’ll be studying at a private university in Belgrano, Palermo or Puerto Madero for the next semester. One of them studies the same thing that you are so you think you’ll have a lot in common. The first day of classes you are very excited so when you come back home, you tell your new roomies all about your new college. You describe in detail the beauty of the building (and classmates), you express you admiration for the knowledge of your professors, and you go on and on for hours about how wonderful it’ll be to spend all this time studying in such a nice city. You don’t know why, but during your long, long speech their Porteño faces become non-identifiable.
You ask them how their day was. The response: “I’m gonna tell you how my day was, just shut up and listen: I went to my shitty job at a call center and my supervisor threatened to fire me if I showed up late one more time. Then I went to the subway station but the subways were not running. I hadn’t eaten at this point so I tried to buy something at the cheapest place I knew but the prices had gone up so much that I couldn’t afford anything. Then I had to take the bus, but it was so full of people because the subways were not working that someone took my cell phone from my backpack. I arrived at my university five minutes late, with the paper I had to complete but the professor was not there that day so I basically spent all night writing an essay that I won’t have to submit until next week. Then I went to his office because I needed the scores of some exams, but it turned out that they’d lost my file. After this I went to my second class and a piece of ceiling fell on my head. Not to mention that it was so freezing inside that building that I had to keep my woolen gloves on and I couldn’t write. And that was it.”
After this monologue, you want to die. You don’t want to believe their story, it cannot be true. The sad news is that there is an 85 % chance that all the Porteño said was true.
After that afternoon, you never ever mention the university thing again. You find that they are nice and that you can get along really well with them. Just don’t let them see that you check out books from the library of your school while they have to make photocopies from the photocopies that someone lent them.