I thought he was going to cry
So, read this : Argentina is short of cash - Literally
And it's true. There is a premium on coins. Countless times I have been undercharged or bullied into over-tipping to save giving coins as change. The thing is that I need coins, for the bus, and more critically I need 1 peso coins for the washing machine. So, it's a game... buying things at a price that leave room for a one peso coin and making sure to give the right amount of money to improve the chances of getting the invaluable 1 peso. I have discovered that the Asian supermarket across the road seems to have an endless supply and I am usually able to ensure a coin in my change. Try that at Coto or Disco and you have no hope in hell.
So today I popped into my local store to buy some vegetable for my salad this evening (to enjoy with the never ending lasagne). Now, the vegetable area seems to be a different store within a store and in fact it was not attended by an asian person, in fact it was a small Argentine boy, around 9 years old. Terribly efficient and serious about his job. He bagged my tomatoes and pepper and announced the price... $4. Excellent I thought, knowing I had a $5 note in my wallet.
But when I presented him with the note his face dropped and his up-until-now mature stature left him. He stood there, clearly thinking about what he was going to do. I'm sure we could have stood there for quite some time, but the look on his face was such that I felt the need to put him out of his misery - I thought he was going to cry. I caved in and offered him a $10 note, suggesting $6 change. He seemed pleased.
It wasn't a total disaster though, after buying my vegetable I bought a bottle of coke from the main store and scored a peso in that change... I'll be able to do my laundry this weekend.