I attend a public university, which in Argentina means that although its education quality couldn’t be better, there are certain aspects that not everyone would accept. Besides sometimes lacking benches for all the students, having still a horrible pavement floor and being basically the ugliest building I’ve ever seen, sometimes some people like to interrupt classes. Most of them are to promote their Marxist student agrupations, but only once in awhile there are people from outside the university who sell random things.
Last week, when the Semiology proffesor was taking list —one of the few classes that care about if you’re present or abscent —, a young man unexpectedly came in. I guess he was around 30 and although he wasn’t in rags, you could easily realize that money wasn’t abundant in his life. Just like the first time I saw him in my first Sociology class, the Semiology professor also seemed to know him. The young man didn’t speak too clearly. I though he might be deaf, but he could listen to what the professor told him perfectly.
When the professor with his always computerized and serious voice asked him how he was doing, the young man told him that that morning he had a tooth pain, so he went to the dentist to have a root canal treatment done. The professor was surprised. ”Oh, they already did it to you?”, the young man answered that indeed it was already done to him as if he didn’t understand why it was so surprising for the professor. “Where did you go to the dentist?”, asked my professor and the young man told him that he went to one near Constitución. For the way he talked about it, I thought that it was a public hospital, but when the professor asked him if it was free, the young man laughed and denied it. So the professor told us: “You see, you need to help him pay his root canal treatment”, but the young man interrupted him “No, I already paid it!”, and the professor answered him “You shouldn’t say that if you want to sell!”, but the young man had other trick for us, “But I still have to pay for the crowns that are $500”. “All of them?”, “Ha, no, each of them! I was given some medicaments too but I was told that I should only buy them if I feel pain”. “Well, you’re lucky that this is a classroom full of women and they tend to have more sympathy in them”, we laughed and even more when the young man said: “Yes, that’s why I never go to engineering!”
Then the young man told us “What type of joke do you want to hear, a green, yellow or white one?” Someone answered “green”. It was a funny joke and it was the same that he had told in the Sociology class a few weeks ago, but I laughed again. It seemed that he told us the joke as an excuse for selling us Halls. So next he went around the classroom while the proffessor went to the back and sat on a bench.
"The good thing is that I bought them at $2 and I sell them to you for $3!" he mocked us and rather than being offended we laughed. The professor told him that he was making a 33% of profit, but the young man told him "No, it’s 50%. You don’t know anything!", and the professor said: "As long as they don’t know, there is no problem" and next he asked him: "Do your parents still sell bread?" . The young man answered: "Yes, but I industrialized. Making bread every day was too tiring. But I wake up at the same time they do! At 4AM they wake up! I wake up with them, so that I can get here on time at 7AM for the first class."
Once he finished selling to almost all of us — how could we not buy a small package of Halls after such a long introduction?— and was about to leave, the professor told him: “Buy the medicaments they gave you, even if you don’t feel any pain”. The young man insisted that they told him that it wasn’t neccesary and handed in the prescription to my professor. “These are antibiotics. They probably told you that because they thought that you couldn’t afford it, and they thought that as long as you don’t feel pain, there is no infection. But I know that you can afford it, right?”, the young man answered that he could and assured him that he would buy the medicaments. He thanked us, left and the proffessor continued taking list.
And that’s how I helped to pay a root canal treatment and dental crowns.