Today is my last day of work in Buenos Aires, though I’ll of course still be here for a few more days and continue to write and work with the BA Cast. I haven’t talked about my job much throughout my two years here, and aside from mentioning that I’ve worked at a high end travel agency, if you look back through all of the files you’ll never even once find the company’s name mentioned. It’s not that I need secrecy, but I guess I’m just trying to keep with the theme of this whole experience—it’s not the job that has been the central aim of these two years, but rather the life down here. I came to Argentina without a job and was fortunate to find this one within about two weeks.
For a long time I didn’t know what I would do without the job because it became my sense of normality. Every morning I would wake up, come to the office, and work until quittin’ time. I made some of my best friends in Buenos Aires at the office, and while I moved around five times within a year and a half, the job was the only solid point. Like with many positions, it wasn’t all cake, and at one point I was actually offered a job to be editor of the international section of the Buenos Aires Herald. It would be more money and less hours, but in the end I chose to stay put.
It was an extremely difficult decision, because on the one hand I could have been giving my writing career a major leg up, working for one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country, and one of the most prestigious on the continent. Yet I remained with my job at the travel agency because 1. I didn’t want to have to pay my dues again, knowing that I was going home in just a few months, and 2. My goal in Argentina was learn about the culture, learn more Spanish, and make friends. I had accomplished that, and I knew by leaving the friends at work I might not see them so frequently. If I wanted more money, a couple hundred extra pesos a month or whatever it was wouldn’t make me a millionaire. Sure, it would make my life here easier, but I reasoned that I have years ahead to pursue financial trumps. This journey was about something else.
I’ll miss certain things about my job, though in reality the main things I’ll miss will be the people who made it worthwhile. Whenever the weather was nice (essentially anytime outside of winter) I would take a stroll during the lunch break. I’d most likely end up by Plaza San Martín, the only refuge of green space in the Microcentro, which was fortunately just a few blocks away. There I would sit and get some sun or take a quick nap. I read books and had lunch, or studied for the GRE and peopled watched. In the plaza there are men with green vests who go up to tourists and ask for donations. At first the same guy kept coming up to me until one day he started saying hi and would continue walking. Eventually we had a long talk and he asked me how long I was going to be here, and we shook hands as he moved on. Every time after we gave a little nod of understanding, and I’ll miss that.
My first professional office job is behind me now, and it was an international one at that. I was the only foreigner there, surrounded by Spanish every day, sometimes hailed as a nice person and other times on trial for being the only American present. It was an incredible experience and good or bad, I’m better for having gone through it and survived it. Now it’s time to move on, but without forgetting what I’ve learned.