Today I went to the bank, a fairly infrequent occurrence, given that I do most of my banking online, it’s all very Jetsons-like (that’s Los Supersónicos to you)here in Santiago, banking and healthcare being automated to a degree that the United States can only dream about.
But today’s tramite (bureaucracy) required my presence at the bank, and so off I went, dressed in my weekday worst to stand in the titulares (account holder) line and get the fisheye from everyone around me as they wondered just how bad my Spanish was that I didn’t get that this line was for THEM, not for US. Except it is, and it was, and it can be a very grump-inducing experience indeed to establish a checking account in Chile, involving (in my case) not a small amount of explaining, ad nauseam, why I wanted one. In the end, I have a checkbook that I never use, Chilean credit cards that only occasionally see the light of day, and online billpaying which I can do in my jammies.
On my way out of the bank after finishing my transaction (which took just five mintutes because it is neither the end of the month, a Friday or (worst of all) a Friday at the end of the month before a holiday weekend) I happened to glance at the security guard’s ID badge, and noticed that it didn’t say “seguridad” like so many of them do. His said, “vigilante privado.” Now, vigilar is a word, and it means to watch over, or keep an eye on. Vigilante would be a person who does those things. But since most of us gringos have a double soundtrack in our heads, of English and Spanish (and mine has a third language, of bearshapedsphere, a dialect in and of itself), I could not help but read it like I would in English: private vigilante.
And that got me to thinking. If I had a (peaceloving) army of vigilantes, or even just one, what would I have them do, there in the bank, or downtown?
Here’s a list of the top 3 things my vigilante would enforce. I’m hoping you can help me round out the list.
1. No aimless dawdling on the way into and out of buildings. Doorways were meant for you to pass through on your way in or out, not stand there pondering if you should have rice, potatoes, or both as side dishes for your lunch.
2. No babytalk on the cellphone to your mate in public places. I’m sure she is your petit chou-chou or term of choice in Spanish, but a) I don’t want to hear if and b) I just saw you coming out of a café con piernas (strip coffee house), so please do not make me grab your phone and tell your ladyfriend the truth.
3. No believing that because you’re in a motorized vehicle (private car, taxi, bus), and I’m on a bike, that you can go faster than me on the city streets in traffic. I’m manouverable, and if you pass me, I will just pass you in another 30 seconds. Take it slow, buddy, we’re all going to get caught up at the next light.
So readers, what would you ask your vigilante privado to keep an eye on?