A year ago, upon returning back to Cali from summer vacation, I had just finished a trip to the grocery store. After getting into a taxi and greeting the driver, he turned around and asked, "¿El Ingenio?" which was the neighborhood I had lived in during my first year here. I thought it odd, but plausible, that, of all the taxis in Cali, I had gotten some guy twice to drive me somewhere. It was also conceivable that he remembered this freckly red-headed gringo; there're aren't a lot of us running around these parts. What I found weird was that he remembered where I lived! He looked a little disappointed when I told him that, no, I had moved.
Later that month I was riding in the elevator in my apartment building and a girl who also lived in the building got on and asked me if I had been at Tin Tin Deo, a well known Salsateca in Cali. I had been and was a little embarrassed to be that easily spotted. It made me wonder if I've got some name the locals that see me out and about have for me. "Look! It's the pink one!" I can hear it now.
Well, this week I went to the bank to pay my very truant cell phone bill. At banks in Colombia there are usually two lines; one is for people who hold accounts at the bank and the other is for those who do not. The thing is that there are usually several tellers for the non-clients and one or possibly two for those belonging to said financial institution. Unless there is an enormous caravan of customers in the line for those who are not clients, it doesn't really matter which one you go to. Also, although I'm a client at my bank, if I'm there to pay a bill in cash to a third party, I'm not sure where I'm supposed to go. That and I'm paranoid of waiting twenty minutes to be kicked out of line and have to start again so I usually bring a book and err on the side of caution.
As I entered the snaking line for "non-members," the [very attractive] teller calls out to me to get in the other line. So, as the rest of the tellers, guards, and scores of customers turn to look, I did an about face, followed the zig-zagging path out of one line and into the much straighter "member" line.
When I got to the front of the line and was called forward my face was still a nice shade of red; the teller told me so. I asked her if she remembered me and she said yes and looked at me like that was a silly question as if I had asked if there was a big safe in the back room. I suppose it was a little silly. I'm in the bank probably once a month and in June of last year, this same teller was very helpful in helping me deal with another bank over a computer problem and she was the same one who deposited my last paycheck last year. I guess it's not too unbelievable, I mean, I remembered her...
Regardless, in a city of 2 million people, I still find it strange to be recognized by relative strangers. Nice, but strange.