Tales from Abroad: Poverty’s Not As Cool Anymore

Distressed citizens have increasingly complained of swarms of poor Argentineans
searching the trash for recyclables to sell back to companies.

“It’s just . . . humiliating,” admitted Sr. Alejandro Parez, who sees them
picking through the trash every day on his morning runs. “I mean . . . these people
dig through garbage for a job. How lame is that?” Sr. Parez is not alone in worrying
about this new wave of poor.

“They aren’t one step ahead of the broadsword, only stealing what they can’t
afford; they’re selling discarded cardboard from the city’s trash”, Buenos Aires Head
of Tourism, María Calvera said. “After the economic crisis, I’d been looking forward
to generation of charming little Oliver Twists. As my daughter always says, ‘I just
want us to have a cool country’”.

The middle class tries to pitch in by mocking the so-called “cartoneros”
(or “cardboarders”) and deriding them as “tramps”. Despite this pressure,
cartenoneros still stubbornly refuse to shape up and change their image to
something that would seize the imagination of the other classes, let alone to inspire
Hollywood movies or best-sellers.

“I get it if they can’t all do the cute Orphan Annie act, but it’s like they don’t
even wants us to romantically idealize them! You think we could at least hear about
some daredevil crimes. You know, nothing I would do myself, but something that
would be fun to think about . . . something exciting,” confessed Sra. Sofia Marquez,
as she adjusted her pearl necklace and ivory bracelets. Her purse dog yipped in
agreement.

Instead of an exciting, gritty life of petty theft, they continue to bore the
middle and upper classes to tears.

“If they don’t want to steal from us, they could at least peddle drugs or
something,” Sr. Parez added, noting that Weeds had become popular lately.

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