The Time I Grated my Thumb

I remember when I went to Venezuela in the summer of 2005 and I learned of the informal economy wherein people sell small items all the time, everywhere, anywhere. On a bus and want a candy bar? No problem. Walking down the street and have a sudden desire for a scissors? Just wait a second. Button pop off your pants? I think that guy is selling tiny sewing kits.

Chile is the same. There are always people selling trinkets for  pennies and most of the time, it annoys me. There I said it. Whew! It annoys me. If I wanted a pair of fingerless mittens, I’d go buy a pair of fingerless mittens. I don’t need to sit through a five-minute promotional push that extolls the many benefits of fingerless mittens as I sit, unable to escape, on a bus.

That was until the other day when I was grating carrots for a salad. (Oh how I dearly miss are carrots that come cleaned and pre-grated and other convenience foods.) I looked away for a second, my hand went rogue, and before I knew it, I had shaved off a scale-shaped piece of my right thumb. Since we have no band-aids, I held a napkin to it until it, er, stopped gushing. TMI? Sorry. Then, we polished off the salad in relative peace.

It wasn’t until later that we were coming back from a jog that it occurred to us that I we never removed my skin flake from the grated carrots. Remember how you used to react in elementary school when you got invisible “cooties”? Imagine two sweaty adults walking along a secluded street at dusk convulsing, gagging, and thrashing while screaming “YUCK!” in two different languages.

Two days after that, I impaled the same thumb on a knife as I washed dishes. (SEE!?!?! Domesticity is dangerous, I tell you!)

On Friday, as we drove to our reception, we saw a man selling band-aids at a stoplight. I don’t think you’ve ever seen a car stop faster, or the occupants gesturing as wildly and fishing around for 100 Pesos (about 20 cents). You would have thought the guy was selling chocolate-coated crack.

Oh the things you can buy on the street! Thank you, freelance entrepreneurs of Latin America!

He handed them to me, “Keep these in your purse, you know, for your accidents.”

My thumb is healing nicely, thank you, but it appreciates your concern.

4 responses to “The Time I Grated my Thumb

  1. While I would NOT enjoy the sales pitches that come along with selling things, I would love to see somebody selling bandaids.

    Me and the grater are not good friends, I grate my thumb off every time I use it…

  2. studiovalparaiso


    Antes que todo, muchas felicidades por tu matri. Dije suficiente,no?

    Y bien, veo que te has topado con los vendedores ambulantes y te cargan. A mi me pasaba lo mismo al principio cuando llegue a Santiago (ahora vivo en Valparaíso), los encontraba molestos también pero después de tanto tiempo, mi opinión sobre ellos es que son gente esforzadas que por lo menos tratan de ganarse la vida honradamente y no andan robando o asaltando. Ahora pienso que deberías quererlo un poquito más también, después de todo, son personajes que forman parte del folclor callejero de Chile. Son parte del país que amas, no? Además, igual venden cosas útiles como las inigualables vitamina C(las cuales adoro) o parches curita que mas de una vez les he comprado porque, como en tu casa, nunca hay en la mia. =)

    Saludos y una vez más, felicidades!


    • Gracias!

      Bueno, no diría que “me cargan”, pero si me molestan cuando me siento presionada comprar algo en la micro, por ejemplo. También prefiero que trabajen de alguna manera y vender cosas es mejor que andar robando. De vez en cuando, compro algo porque es algo que necesito, como esa vez.

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