Don't Forget to Ask for the Check

Isabel Rameker square headshot
Isabel Rameker
November 24, 2022
Don't Forget to Ask for the Check

I’m the slowest eater in my family, meaning that I’m nearly always the last one left at the dinner table, the one who doesn’t get seconds, and the one taking last bites as the waiter comes around with the check. As a kid, I was always one of the last ones lingering in the cafeteria when recess had long ago started (this was partially because I hated the cold and partially because I was a slow eater). I was also always the slowest walker, the slowest biker, and the slowest to get ready in the morning. Not much has changed and I’m mostly really thankful for that even as everyone around me seems to often be moving at a pace designed to get from one place to the next as quickly as possible. Buenos Aires is different. 

During orientation, we were warned that things tend to move at a different pace in Argentina than they do in the states. “The bus will come when it comes. People are always a little late. You can sit in a restaurant for hours and not be asked to leave.” 

This afternoon, Caroline and I sat at the window table in Tostado for nearly three hours while we drank our smoothies and ate our sandwiches. No one blinked an eye. I’ve never once been asked if I want the check; instead, I usually spend minutes trying to make eye contact with the waiter so I can ask for the check long after I’ve finished eating. It seems like a funny, small thing. Almost like it would be unnoticeable. But the difference it makes is tangible. 

Although it’s sometimes frustrating, I love that I move at a slower pace because it lets me take everything in. I love lingering over meals with my friends, I love watching the way the light hits the trees on the walk home from class, I love the sleepy moments between being asleep and awake (although as any morning-class professor could tell you, sometimes I love those moments a little too much). 

Another thing I’ve noticed about the pace of life in Buenos Aires: people walk slowly. People walk slowly and they walk right in the middle of the sidewalk, so if you want to pass someone you must navigate the back and forth of finding an opening and getting by. Sometimes, it turns into an awkward little dance where I’ve forgotten to slow down quickly enough, and instead, I’m just steps behind someone, shuffling along, trying not to seem urgent but also trying not to seem like I’m following them. The one thing I do quickly is walk, and so I run into this problem several times a day.

I’ve been trying to walk more slowly lately. My time in Buenos Aires is almost over and I’ve been feeling that in all of the little reminders of last times and return plans. I don’t want to end this on a sappy note (because there’s actually nothing original about wanting to slow down and savor the moment), so I’ll leave you with this instead: Today, I won the semester superlative for most fashionably late, and I’m still going to blame it on the bus.

Isabel Rameker square headshot

Isabel Rameker

I'm a junior sociology and anthropology major at Carleton College in Minnesota. I'm also a prospective Spanish minor and I'm both excited and nervous to dive into a semester of Spanish immersion in Argentina. Although I go to school in a small town, I love cities and am endlessly fascinated by their different cultures and dynamics, so I'm especially excited to be living in Buenos Aires this fall. At school, I play club frisbee and write for my college's news site, and in my free time, I love to lounge with a good book, cook meals with my housemates, and enjoy the outdoors.

Home university:
Carleton College
Hometown:
Madison, Wisconsin
Major:
Sociology
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