Before we start I have to say that I’ve kissed a lot of men since i’ve been down here and I’m okay with it. There, I just had to get that off my chest…
Yesterday was Natalia’s last day at work. She’s been bartending at Buller for 2-years and was certainly a centerpiece to the Buller family. Her departure gave me yet another glimpse at the passion that permeates life here. I say “here” as in Buller and as in Buenos Aires. It certainly opened my eyes to our interactions in the States. Not just in business but in our everyday communication with friends, family and co-workers. My boss actually asked me last week “why are Americans so cold?… what’s with this handshake thing all about and the awkward greeting?” I didn’t have a good answer for him, I just made sure I gave him an extra big embrace at the end of work that night. To us Americans that’s weird. Here it’s normal.
Anyway, Natalia told everyone about 2-weeks ago that yesterday would be her last day. Since then, she’s been showered with gifts, given big tips by regulars and grown men have broken down and cried on multiple occasions (literally, almost everyone including our bosses). While I couldn’t muster up the tears myself I could definitely feel the energy. We had a big toast in her honor after work last night and everyone said something special. It was a great thing to be a part of. I even said a little something in Spanish.
This is the same passion (or compassion) that makes me feel so welcome in a place where I don’t know anyone and don’t even speak the same language.
Compare all this with the states. When you leave a company in the states what do you get? You put in your 2-week notice and everyone wishes you the best of luck and to “stay in touch”. I can’t speak for all companies, I’m just saying it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Everyone actually meant what they said.
However, it’s not just at work where I get to see the passion on a daily basis. You can witness it in every park and square around the city as young couples are trying to swallow each others faces. It’s everywhere and penetrates everything. It’s what makes them such great cooks, artists, soccer fans, dancers and lovers.Jackpot!
Now getting back to the man-kiss thing. When you meet and/or greet someone you give them a kiss. Nothing crazy, just a small smooch on one cheek (face). Everyday I go into work I greet everyone on the staff with a kiss (chicks get a hug too). I do the same thing when I leave. You greet everyone individually. Some are great. One girl always smells like strawberries and another holds on a little bit longer than normal. On the other hand, you gotta take the good with the bad. I also greet all the men the same way more or less. Including the sweaty guys in the kitchen and my one boss who has a beard (which tickles every time).
I often wonder where all this passion stems from. Is it just all the red meat and amazing wine? Or, is it the years of constant crisis and chaos that makes people appreciate friends and family? The rain does help you appreciate the sun.
Maybe it’s a gift and a curse. Is so much passion good for business, economics and politics? Is that a small reason why there’s always protests? Does the heart get in the way of the head? Does passion give way to reason?
I’m just going to keep enjoying everything that these people are passionate about and let as much of it as possible rub off on me. Hopefully, I’ll just keep the sweaty-bearded-man-kisses to a minimum.
See The Art of the Kiss Video Tutorial for more detailed information