Friday, February 22, 2008

Would you let me pack your parachute?

I met someone at a function tonight. She's from San Jose, but her parents are Argentine. So when she speaks to people here they assume she is a local because her accent is perfect. But she said that it was very difficult to make Argentine friends because she didn't go to school or grow up with them.

This is a pattern that I have heard repeated quite often- Argentines are warm, friendly people. But to make it into their inner circle, you have to be trusted. And whom do you trust? Family, and those you have grown up with.

It's understandable in a country that has gone through a military dictatorship and an economic collapse that trust would not be forthcoming. Even the government economic data cannot be trusted (Inflation 8%? give me a break. Everyone knows it's at least 20%.)

There's even a gesture here for mistrust: they take a finger and pull down the corner of their eye. It means roughly "you better watch out" or "keep an eye on that guy." We don't have that gesture in the U.S. Maybe trust is something I take for granted. I trust most people implicitly. I trust them until they show me they cannot be trusted.

I feel sorry for the Argentine-American who has trouble making friends here. I've made friends with other Americans, Brits, Irish, and Canadians in just a few weeks whom I trust completely. I'd let them pack my parachute.

And we didn't even grow up together.

What is it that makes us trust others?

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