Thursday, May 25, 2006


Have I told you about Gabriel?

Gabriel and his grandmother, mother and sister own an Argentinian bakery near our house. We go there for fresh pastries, coffee, the occasional cake for a party, holiday themed cookies, fresh bagels and on a good day - sugar donuts still warm from the oven.

Gabriel and his family are the hardest working people on the planet. Most mornings Garbriel asks how I am. Because this is usually pre-caffeine I say something careless and self-absorbed like, "WOO! Boy am I SOOOO TIRED! I just can't WAKE UP. What a week! Boy am I EXHAUSTED!" as he hands me my large coffee and my still warm fresh pastry he most likely rolled out in the bakery out back around 4AM that morning.

Asking Gabriel how HE is can have two results:

A.) A fast and furious aka "lets hurry this along I have deliveries to make" exchange
B.) A story about anything at all that lasts 20 minutes long and not a minute less

Because I enjoy listening to people and their stories (most times - Ire) I often like these long winded stories with Gabriel unless they...

A.) Involve detailed accounts of European football (zzz)
B.) Don't involve my coffee being handed to me prior to 20 minute story

Yesterday's story went like this (grab a coffee):

Gabriel was good. In fact he was very good - happy and excited even. Why? A few days ago he moved a couch in his living room and came across a very important notebook he thought he had lost over a year ago.

The notebook was special because it contained several home addresses of many of his closest friends back in Argentina. Over the period of the lost notebook, Gabriel received a ton of letters from his friends back home yet none of them included a return address. Most of his friends didn't have phones much less own computers and many of them lived in remote/rural places - impossible to reach. For example, Gabriel recalled the time his uncle got a phone - he had waited - get ready for this (Gabriel's words not mine) - 30 years for a phone to be installed in his home. When it finally came Gabriel said his uncle was so excited he had a party with friends and family. Everyone took a photo with the phone. There was tons of food. Gabriel said his uncle was so excited he made business cards to hand out to random people with just his phone number on it and said, "Call me."

Over the year of the lost notebook Gabriel grew desperate. He finally asked a favor of a friend of his still living back in Argentina. A friend with a phone. He asked the friend to make flyers and pass them out in the neighborhoods where Garbriel's other friends lived. The guy agreed but did not know any of these people. It was a shot in the dark.

This plan had several flaws. The first - Gabriel is horrible with directions. He tells the friend passing out flyers vague directions such as "leave a flyer at the blue house where the old man with the guitar sits every day". Predictably no one contacted Gabriel.

It didn't matter. Gabriel found the notebook. Finally. Now he had letters to write. Friends to catch up with. He may have looked tired but none of that seemed to matter now.


At 1:10 AM, Blogger alfr3do said...

I am very happy you're back writing here K. This is sad and funny and poignant and colorful and fresh. The story (and the story within the story) came alive in my mind. It resonates with my own life.

Thank you.

At 5:41 AM, Blogger Joana said...

There is no such thing as European soccer: it's either soccer ou european football. ;))
Great story, good to have you back!
(Can I have one of those donuts?)

At 3:34 PM, Blogger George. said...

I remember as a kid, in the early 80s, when we'd call family in Buenos Aires, we'd have to call a drug store and the clerk would run down the street to retrieve someone from my family at their home. Cray-zee, right?!

At 12:38 AM, Blogger catsteevens said...

I have family in Argentina.

My father used to call the neighbor when he wanted to talk with his sister (my aunt). The neighbor would run down and get her and let my aunt use his phone. It was this way my entire childhood and beyond. It never really seemed to bother her or my uncle. It was just that way.

They have a phone now. She and my father talk almost every single day.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Stimulant said...

Ooooh. If you don't mind, could you tell me where this bakery is? My family is from Argentina and I've been searching for local bakeries here! Email:

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Angel said...

What an awesome story! I'm staunchly middle/upper middle class and have lived in Southern California my whole life. It took traveling to other countries (Mexico, Italy, Fiji) to realize how much I take for granted. Thank you for reminding me, once again, that I need to be grateful for the "little things". BTW, where is that bakery? Give'em a plug!


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