Saturday, August 28, 2010

Post Economic Collapse Stories: Mr. Remisero

The intercom rang and after verifying that it was my car I grabbed my range bag and hurried outside. It was 6PM and already kind of late for my Firearm Instructor class. While the class officially starts at 6.30 PM and I would easily get there on time, I would be missing the coffee before the class officially starts. A group of ten people training to become firearms instructors, you don’t want to miss the conversations which are in average better than the gun shop talks. These guys are either cops or other people that for some reason have armed themselves, and have taken a step further than just buying the weapon and handling it safely, most of us have had a decent amount of defensive shooting training. In a country where running into trouble is just a matter of time, and with a leftist government just waiting for gun users to make the slightest mistake so they can throw you in jail, the instructor’s class is a group of interesting people indeed. We all know how to shoot, but none of us has Rambo or Jan Claude Van Dam’s universal soldier delirium. Those that own firearms here will indeed find the opportunity to use them if that’s what they are looking for hard enough, but most often than not end up in jail for murder  or excess of legitimate self defense (whatever that means). So we’re all nice, level headed types. We all know how to shoot for self defense, most of us have had some close to very close encounter of the “give me your wallet/car” type, some have killed defending their lives, all of us have come very close to doing so. 

The Federal shooting club is located in the part of town rarely depicted in postcards of Argentina. Mostly surrounded by “villa”, settlements and shanty towns, the Federal shooting club is a group of small buildings in the middle of an open filed, several hectares that used to belong to Fabricaciones Miliatares. Now it’s the rare oasis where conservative gun enthusiasts gather, people now considered dangerous by our own government and the new liberal generation. Just when the club started to close we start with our class, first shooting and then theory, a small group of dangerous people inside a small room in the middle of darkness.
I hurried into the Remis car and close the door. The Remis is our version of Taxi, ordinary looking cars with a person that drives you around for a few bucks. Remises are cheaper than Taxis, and they boomed after 2001 when people simply didn’t have any other job. The job is still one of the worst paid ones yet one of the most dangerous: you never know who’s getting into your car… or who’s waiting for you at the destination point.

“Where to, amigo?”
“The Federal shooting club, know where it is?”
A few blocks later the Remisero (remis driver) does what they usually do: he starts talking.
“You know, Fabricaciones Militares (The state owned military factory) used to be right in front of the club. I used to work there.”
“I didn’t know that” I said “You worked there?”
“No, I worked for Fabricaciones Militares, but in the district of Avellaneda. We made bars of copper, wire, we did galvanized sheet metal. Very good quality, it would bend but go back to its original form. Its closed now of course. When they closed and transferred us to the new facility in front of the shooting club, I decided I didn’t want to work so far away from home, so I went to the factory right in front and got a job there that same day. It was easy to find work in those days.”.
A very common joke around here, I said. “Hey, but we’re doing better than ever now, Ms. President says so”.
I hear bitterness in the man’s voice “Yes, right, that b”&!%, she’s got some nerve. You know what, that was my first job. I had just turned 19, and started working there.” The man’s voice brightens up some, sounds more cheerful, remembering better times “At the end of the month I had earned 36.000 pesos! My first salary. You know what I did with that money? I went to a car dealership and bought my first car. A brand new Fiat 600”.
I said “man, must have been nice. Today you’d need a year’s worth of salary to buy even a used one”.
“You wish. Certainly not with the kind of money I’m making” he replied. “That was back in 1973. We worked until 11 AM, took a 15 minute break to drink coffee and eat a few sandwiches. Then at 1PM we took a break for lunch. The company’s diner was terrific. With the equivalent of what today would be one single peso you ate like a king, as much as you wanted. Then back to work until 6PM”.
I told him. “ But we’re supposed to believe those were the worst years ever in the country. Yet people could walk safely on the streets, correct?”
 “You bet. You could walk without worries. If the police stopped you they asked you what was your business, asked for ID and that was it. What they say today about the poor little angles, they were in fact leftist terrorists seeking to bring down the country, don’t let the press fool you. One time, they attacked the factory where I worked, threw Molotov bombs through the windows. They said that the amount of cable ruined that day was enough to connect Buenos Aires with Madrid. Those were the Montoneros, leftists that today run our country (President Crisitian, she used to be a Montonero)”. He stopped talking for a few blocks and then started talking again, the bitterness had returned to his voice “You know what I tell my daughters? That they have to finish studying their carriers so they don’t end up driving a remis like I do, leave this country and never come back.”
We reached the entrance of the shooting club, there was only darkness past the main entrance. I told him not to worry, to drive inside. The dangerous men were already walking towards the shooting range. I missed the coffee talk, but I got to listen to a piece of this country’s history, or at least a side of it that you don’t hear about on the main media.



Anonymous said...

Sometimes reality is sadder than fiction.

Anonymous said...

Good story and depressing to those know what's headed our way. Perhaps our elections this November will give us a chance, but other than that, we're going the way of Argentina...or worse.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps our elections this November will give us a chance"

It seems like that is more of the same? Or, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

I think maybe comments like that will become like the old joke in Argentina mentioned in this post.

It might be a bit different though, instead of,
"Perhaps our elections this November will give us a chance"
it will be, "Now remember, the elections changed all that, you have a chance now. You'll get nothing, and like it"

Anonymous said...

The economy getting worse and a leftist idiot on TV telling you that things are getting better every day. . .that sounds awfully familiar. . .

Anonymous said...


I wrote in previously asking for detailed interviews of verious people pre and post crash. This is gold! However, a good sit down lengthy interview would be much better.

Still, great work.