There are things I hate about being part of the über-rich, white, American ruling class; Part of this dislike stems from the fact that I am not actually part of it. Yes, I am white which bestows me with multiple privileges, many of which I am not even aware of. Yes, I am American. The country, however, has not been coming to me for advice on how to run-if it did, we certainly would have a different view of the world. And, despite all the whiteness and the American-ness, I am not rich. In fact, I am working a job that pays well below the poverty line.
Really, much of this is not the point. Rather, the point is that I find it very frustrating when people a) make these assumptions about me and then b) go out of their way to find ways to swindle me, both overtly and covertly.
Here are some recent examples from my life and from those in my life that have a similar situation:
- * A friend was recently charge 5 times the regular price for a doctor’s consultation. Five times! If he had just charged her an extra 20 or 30 dollars she might not have noticed, but an additional 160 USD is hard to miss or let slide.
- A hotel was less than upfront about prices (and admittedly it is confusing that foreigners do not have to pay the 19% tax on accommodations provided they can prove they are tourists and that they pay in US dollars or on a US credit card). Last minute when I went to pay they told me the price did not include the tax whereas I had in writing from before that it did.
- Collectivos (cars that operate much like buses) drivers try to charge me 50 pesos more than other passengers (430 pesos to a dollar).
- Last night at a tango club in Argentina the waitress flat out told us that she was going to charge us 20 pesos (3 pesos to a dollar) more per drink because the prices on the menu were Argentine prices. Besides this being blatant discrimination, it was not written anywhere on the menu nor was it explained before drinks were ordered. Not to mention, it made one drink slightly more expensive than the all you can eat restaurant we had just gone to that include an entire bottle of wine per person, dessert, large salad bars, and all the cuts of Argentine meat that you can think of.