Get “Rich” Quick Scheme!

Seven months ago, I moved to Buenos Aires without a job because I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. So here I am now, learning Spanish while teaching English and translating Chinese on the side. (Yes, it is weird.) In any case, this summer, my Argentine boyfriend and I went up to the States to visit family and friends. What was supposed to be a two-week-ish vacation quickly turned into a three-week-ish one (and/or limbo of the hellish kind) when we got stuck in the airport for four days, voluntarily, in exchange for something like money.

If you, too, would like to make nearly $6,000 of “money” for “free” in four days, please consider my first-hand experience doing the same, as detailed below:

DAY ONE

1. Find the gate for your connecting flight to Buenos Aires.
a. It’s on time!
b. You made it!
c. People are crying.

2. This is somewhat explained by an announcement asking for volunteers to delay their flight a day to help the rest of the selfish and hurried masses get to Buenos Aires on time. (It is overbooked by 24, OH SHOOT.) They offer:
a. meal vouchers.
b. hotel vouchers.
c. an $800 travel voucher.

3. Look at your guy. Tentatively suggest this as an option. You are unsure, he is unsure.

4. Realize $800 more than either of you make in a month.

5. Accept the offer.
a. While receiving said vouchers, listen attentively to the man behind the counter as he mentions, offhandedly, that this may happen again tomorrow and that “some people do take advantage of it.”
b. Laugh amicably, then ask no fewer than 10 follow-up questions. 

6. Find the man in the red jacket to ask about your luggage, which can only ever be disappointing news.
a. He will confirm that it is stuck in the warehouse.
b. Accept the toiletry bags he offers you as a consolation gift.

7. Go directly to the hotel via AirTrain and shuttle.
a. Without asking for your name or an ID, the concierge will exchange your hotel voucher for a room key picked at random from a stack they have waiting next to their Florida mousepads.
i. First of all, mousepads.
ii. Second of all, you are in New Jersey.
b. Congratulations, you have been given, at random, double beds and a room that smells like cat pee!
c. Contemplate watching a movie on your computer but, upon realizing your charger is in the warehouse with your aforementioned luggage, opt for trash TV instead, lest you waste what precious battery remains.

DAY TWO

1. Wake up. Put on your underwear inside out. Fresh.

2. Cross your fingers for another overbooked flight.

3. Dump out water bottles before security.

4. Refill water bottles after security.

5. Once inside the terminal and sufficiently bored, talk with your guy about where you’ll go with what is, in a sense, Monopoly money.
a. You want to go to Iceland but he doesn’t.
b. He wants to live in Morocco but you don’t.
i. For emphasis: LIVE?!
ii. He adds: “Or Egypt.”
c. By the way, Greece is pretty.
d. Also, he has family in Italy.
i. Decide to go to Italy.
ii. For three to six months.
iii. Decide to learn Italian.
iv. At summer school.
e. It’s settled.

6. Get sick of books and podcasts. Attempt, mostly in vain, to find new forms of entertainment.
a. Drink absurd amounts of coffee, then leave your bags with your guy so you can walk laps around the terminal.
b. CALL EVERYONE. Preferably under the influence of caffeine.
c. Scour travel books in the bookstore. Buy nothing.
d. Play Bejeweled.
i. For hours on end.
ii. For hours on end.
iii. Literally, for hours on end.

7. Finally join the tribe you’ve seen milling around and waving to each other in the food courts. They are also volunteers. This tribe includes but is not limited to:
a. V., the tribe’s mother hen.
b. J., a German-cum-Canadian going to BA for holiday.
c. C., a jazz musician.
d. P., quiet.
e. two other Couples.
f. G., a kid who’s just done a two-week cultural exchange and has a Darth Vader mask in his carry-on “for pictures.”
g. J., who has a fedora.

8. Again, the announcement. You each accept:
a. meal vouchers.
b. hotel vouchers.
c. a $1,000 travel voucher.

9. Cancel plans and classes accordingly.

10. Ask the same man in the red jacket about your luggage.
a. Learn that it has just gone to BA without you.
b. Accept the toiletry bags he offers you as a consolation gift.

11. This time, your bedroom smells like smoke. Whatever.

12. Get ready for bed.
a. Wash underwear in sink. Dry on desk light.
b. Beg your boy to keep the TV off. Sweet, sweet silence.
c. Behind your eyelids, see only Bejeweled.

DAY THREE

1. Wake up tired, despite having done nothing.

2. To keep up morale, risk your precious computer battery reserve to look up the flights you can now fully afford with your $1,800 apiece.

3. Get breakfast at the hotel with your meal vouchers and pay the tip, embarrassingly enough, in quarters. This is because:
a. Your credit card is maxed out from your flight home.
b. Your debit card has an extremely low balance. Remember now that you casually bought iPads to resell for the double the price in BA.
c. You spent your last few dollars on apples for the airport.

4. Nearly literally, you no longer have any money. You do, however, have:
a. Four flight vouchers equaling $3,600.
b. One wadded-up 100-pesos bill in your change purse.
c. Two brand-new iPads.

5. Go from the shuttle to the AirTrain to security with zero hesitation.

6. Dump out water bottles before security.

7. Refill water bottles after security.

8. Again, the announcement.
a. When they ask for volunteers in exchange for $600 travel vouchers, actually laugh.
b. When they ask for volunteers in exchange for $800 travel vouchers, act like a spoiled child. Whine. Wait it out.
c. When they ask for volunteers in exchange for $1,000 travel vouchers, accept, but begrudgingly. (You were secretly expecting it to go as high as $1,200.)

9. You and your boyfriend now have $2,800 each — nearly $6,000 total in Monopoly money.

10. When the rest of the tribe asks if you’ll do it again tomorrow, laugh, maybe a bit maniacally, and say, “Oh no, it’s not worth our sanity.”
a. But let the record show that the man behind the counter maintained that this would continue until Sunday.
b. But no, oh no, we wouldn’t dare!

11. This time, your bedroom does not smell like anything.

12. When your boyfriend goes down for a “free” drink, stay to “get some sleep.”
a. Cry a little because you can’t sleep.
b. Feel like you’re at a sleepover from hell and you miss your mom.
i. You are at a sleepover from hell.
ii. You do miss your mom.
c. Remember, inexplicably, that everyone you know will someday die.
d. Ask yourself, “What IS a voucher?”
e. To boost morale, risk precious computer battery to watch:
i. An old Disney cartoon of personified trees entitled “Silly Symphony.”
ii. Song clips from a Russian Winnie the Pooh.
f. ???????????????????

13. When your boyfriend comes back, try again to sleep.
a. See nothing but Bejeweled.
b. See nothing but Bejeweled in improvised alternative color schemes.
c. Ask your boy why he thinks all the colors have distinct shapes expect for green and white, which are both round.

DAY FOUR

1. Wake up. You realize last night your forgot your complimentary toiletry bags. Examine:
a. Your pores four days without face wash.
b. Your hair one day without brushing.
c. Your smell one day without deodorant and four days in the same outfit, marinated in a constant light sweat and airport air.

2. Ask the same man in the red jacket one more question about your luggage. He will laugh and say, “Whatchu doing here? Want my jacket? You guys are pros now!”

3. Dump out water bottles before security.

4. Refill water bottles after security.

5. Use a generous amount of free lotion at a gift store.

6. Run into the two tribe couples.
a. Despite your current state of quiet distress, convince them of the benefits of volunteering a third night.
b. Tell them with unreal detail and accuracy where to get the free toiletry bags, as well as an itemized list of what’s inside.

7. Walk around with the only other remaining tribe member, V.
a. You are so tired you no longer understand any of the Spanish V. and your boyfriend are speaking.
b. Become acutely aware of the fact that V. never stops talking.
c. Do not snap. Do not snap. Do not snap.

8. Joke with your boyfriend that you’d stay another night but it might cost you your relationship.
a. You’re only half-joking.
b. You’re not not joking.

9. Go to the gate early. Honestly consider taking another voucher.
a. Try to contain your surprise when they don’t ask for volunteers.
b. Try to contain your surprise when they begin boarding more or less on-time.
c. Casually ask what’s going on. If they’re confused, specifically ask if they need volunteers. They will still be confused. They will say no.
d. Sigh with relief.

10. Get on the mother-effing plane.

In addition to teaching and translating, Sharon Salt now offers free trip itineraries and get rich quick schemes to the masses.

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