It Was Drink or Swim

 

Cold and Numb

Cold. I’m really. Frickin’. Cold.

These are the only words that weave their way through my brain, shaken by the chattering of my teeth and the muted cacophony of small talk from the crowd behind me. AC/DC blares from the radio. I am so not in the mood.

I look over at my buddy Javier, his eyes wide and a little haunted. Very uncharacteristic. He’s just as tired and cold as I am.

The bowl of peanuts we scavenged from an empty table inside the bar helped a little bit — our hunger certainly wasn’t making the cold, wet rain any more tolerable — but the warmth from the last round of beers wore off before we even finished them.

“Crappy German imports and crappy weather,” I think. “What a country.”

Also: “I’ll probably get sick from those bar peanuts.” I tried to imagine that my stomach hurt – so I’d have something other than the damp-numbness to worry about – but failed.

What a country indeed.

How We Got There

The night was looking promising when Javier and I arrived at the modest-sized live music room at Club 69. The bands were pretty good and there were plenty of people to sway and head-bob to the music with.

James Brown. Funk. Lots of soul. Love it.

A few rounds were purchased. Cheek-kisses exchanged.

After the show, Javi and I checked out the main dance hall of the club and weren’t really feeling it. We decided to go meet up with a friend who was at some kind of house party 7- or 8-blocks away instead of sticking around.

This proved to be a mistake.

Unbeknownst to us, and to our friend, a vital text message bearing word that she would be leaving said party and heading home to sleep (read: pass out) didn’t make it from her device to ours, and so upon arriving at the intersection we were directed to, we were unable to find the party or our friend.

Being nimble-minded chaps, we decided to head over to her place a handful of blocks away from our starting location.

Our Options

After a few minutes of ringing our friend’s doorbell, we accepted that she either wasn’t home or was in such a deep sleep that she may as well not have been there.

We went over our options quickly before deciding that we would have one more beer at the packed bar across the street and then snag a taxi home. It was only 4 am, and an early night (morning?) didn’t sound too bad.

Big mistake.

Our Prison

The moment we settled down at a table out in front of the bar it started to rain. The little droplets were immediately soaked up by the porous cement or bounced gaily from discarded styrofoam cups and plastic bags in the street.

So cute and unthreatening; like a baby raptor.

A European couple ran out into the rain to hail a cab,.which whizzed on by without stopping. The couple came back soaked, just as a trio of girls ran past them to flag down another oncoming cab, with identical results.

Traveling by taxi becomes very difficult in Buenoes Aires as soon as it starts raining. All of the available cabs are taken, and many of the drivers simply don’t want to deal with the weather and drive home.

A few more sips of our cervezas and our predicament became clearer. There we were, safe under an overhang, but unable to leave. Our apartments in Recoleta were several miles away and the streets and sidewalks were beginning to flood.

The rain intensified, along with the wind. People were pulling further back from the edge of the overhang, their shoes getting soaked.

We were stuck.

The Problem

This wasn’t a life or death situation; the flood of water never came all the way up to the level of the bar, the crowd behind us was not going to stampede and trample us, and no laws of any kind (that I’m aware of) were being violated by the bar or taxis. Javier and I were in no danger at any point that night.

We were, however, incredibly annoyed and very uncomfortable. We waited three hours. Three HOURS before the rain let up just enough for us to run 4 or 5 blocks away from the crowd so that we could finally flag down a taxi without competing with everyone else at the bar.

We didn’t get back to our respective apartments until after 7 am, and the whole time we were thinking “What the hell is wrong with this place?”

We were stranded at a bar for 3 hours and each bought only one beer. Not great business. Not only that, but we walked away with bad feelings about that particular bar and the taxi services in Buenos Aires.

What a missed opportunity.

What SHOULD Have Happened

Maybe I’m showing too much of my entrepreneurial geekdom here, but the whole time I was standing there, I was wondering how it was that some enterprising individual hadn’t yet come along and fixed (and profited from) this issue.

Just think of it: if no one in this immense city has yet to wrangle a deal with the taxi companies to guarantee service for their clientele, that’s an open opportunity for anyone ballsy enough (and with sufficient connections) to give it a go.

And any such effort would likely succeed spectacularly, because everyone involved would benefit.

The bars would be able to say they offered guaranteed taxi service within a half hour (perhaps a sign would be displayed, like “Wi-Fi Available” stickers, in the window), the taxis services would have a larger number of sure-fire passengers in the participating areas, and the consumers would be able to go out confident that whatever happens, they’ll have a ride home.

Then, of course, whomever starts the program would collect a fee from the business and the taxi service for organizing the effort, providing the window signs and making the connections. Everyone wins.

The Takeaway

Being a good entrepreneur is about more than just knowing how to set up an LLC or build a quick e-commerce website.

It’s about recognizing opportunities when you see them, having developed skill sets so that you can take advantage of them, and making sure that everyone walks away happy so that you can continue to do so in the future.

Leaving out any one of these components will leave you stranded with no way to reach your goals, and I can tell you from experience that you don’t want to be stuck in that kind of situation.

20 comments

  1. I would have been happy to read this story even without the lesson at the end. The things you’ve gotten into since the move are always fascinating to hear about. But, yeah, that makes me wonder if I’m ‘entrepreneurial’ enough. I suppose I need to cultivate an attitude of constantly looking for opportunities. What you came up with was pretty genius and pretty quick. One day I hope to attain some of your geekdom.

  2. I would have been happy to read this story even without the lesson at the end. The things you’ve gotten into since the move are always fascinating to hear about. But, yeah, that makes me wonder if I’m ‘entrepreneurial’ enough. I suppose I need to cultivate an attitude of constantly looking for opportunities. What you came up with was pretty genius and pretty quick. One day I hope to attain some of your geekdom.

  3. I’m simply amazed by your quick thought. You really spotted the opportunity for a great business.

    Here in Mexico City, there is some similar services as the one you talk about. Also if it’s raining a lot of people comes out of nowhere to offer you a plastic bag cut to be some kind of mini-raincoat for 5 to 10 pesos. It’s something you would like to see. I’ll try to get pictures.

    Still I hope you are ok and not as sick as your writing sounds.

  4. I’m simply amazed by your quick thought. You really spotted the opportunity for a great business.

    Here in Mexico City, there is some similar services as the one you talk about. Also if it’s raining a lot of people comes out of nowhere to offer you a plastic bag cut to be some kind of mini-raincoat for 5 to 10 pesos. It’s something you would like to see. I’ll try to get pictures.

    Still I hope you are ok and not as sick as your writing sounds.

  5. Your story is essentially how I go about seeing everything as marketing and the missed opportunities they present. Every business, restaurant, poster, skyscraper, etc all come into my mind with a “if I did that I would have…”

    You do have some great stories man. I hope you keep enjoying your time and doing as much cool stuff as you can.

  6. Your story is essentially how I go about seeing everything as marketing and the missed opportunities they present. Every business, restaurant, poster, skyscraper, etc all come into my mind with a “if I did that I would have…”

    You do have some great stories man. I hope you keep enjoying your time and doing as much cool stuff as you can.

  7. What a great idea you have come up with. Follow through with that and you can spend the rest of your life partying in BA! And I absolutely love your stories, you sure have a way of finding yourself into interesting situations. I’m always coming up with ideas, but never really follow through with them. Not really sure what holds me back.

  8. What a great idea you have come up with. Follow through with that and you can spend the rest of your life partying in BA! And I absolutely love your stories, you sure have a way of finding yourself into interesting situations. I’m always coming up with ideas, but never really follow through with them. Not really sure what holds me back.

  9. Fabulous. Bars should also sell umbrellas. My latest idea for Seattle: an umbrella with a handle that’s actually either a flask or a coffee mug, something to keep you both dry and warm :)

    You, sir, inspire me endlessly. I look forward to learning more about being an entrepreneur from your sometimes unfortunate adventures!

  10. Fabulous. Bars should also sell umbrellas. My latest idea for Seattle: an umbrella with a handle that’s actually either a flask or a coffee mug, something to keep you both dry and warm :)

    You, sir, inspire me endlessly. I look forward to learning more about being an entrepreneur from your sometimes unfortunate adventures!

  11. @JD: Thanks! Everyone comes at entrepreneurship from a different angle, so don’t worry if geeky misadventures are not your style :)

    @Alejandro: Ah, sounds like there are some ground-level business people running around in Mexico City, spotting opportunities and taking advantage of them (to everyone’s benefit). Don’t worry, I didn’t get sick…I was just sick and tired by the end of the night!

    @Greg: I totally hear you. It’s a blessing and a curse in that it helps you quickly figure out better ways of doing things, but at the same time it’s hard to appreciate anything that’s less than perfect sometimes. I’ll keep on enjoying things as much as possible and sharing what happens with you folks!

    @Nate: Thanks, brother! Usually the thing that holds people back is that little voice in the back of your head that whispers “but if it’s a good idea, surely someone would have already done it” to which you can only reply “maaayyybbbeee” and move on with your day. The trick is to realize that even if someone has thought of it before, they clearly haven’t DONE anything about it, and the majority of the battle is just taking that extra step. You’d be amazed by how many opportunities are out there – low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked – simply because everyone who has noticed it before has assumed too much.

    @Kristin: Thanks chick! Great idea, by the way. Let me know when the umbrellaflask goes into production and I’ll snag one for myself.

  12. @JD: Thanks! Everyone comes at entrepreneurship from a different angle, so don’t worry if geeky misadventures are not your style :)

    @Alejandro: Ah, sounds like there are some ground-level business people running around in Mexico City, spotting opportunities and taking advantage of them (to everyone’s benefit). Don’t worry, I didn’t get sick…I was just sick and tired by the end of the night!

    @Greg: I totally hear you. It’s a blessing and a curse in that it helps you quickly figure out better ways of doing things, but at the same time it’s hard to appreciate anything that’s less than perfect sometimes. I’ll keep on enjoying things as much as possible and sharing what happens with you folks!

    @Nate: Thanks, brother! Usually the thing that holds people back is that little voice in the back of your head that whispers “but if it’s a good idea, surely someone would have already done it” to which you can only reply “maaayyybbbeee” and move on with your day. The trick is to realize that even if someone has thought of it before, they clearly haven’t DONE anything about it, and the majority of the battle is just taking that extra step. You’d be amazed by how many opportunities are out there – low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked – simply because everyone who has noticed it before has assumed too much.

    @Kristin: Thanks chick! Great idea, by the way. Let me know when the umbrellaflask goes into production and I’ll snag one for myself.

  13. I completely agree that this is an excellent mindset to have, always thinking in terms of potential business opportunities. Open up any Sky Mall magazine on any airplane and you’ll find 200 pages of ideas that clearly come from entrepreneurial thinking individuals acting on a random, yet useful, idea they had.

    I’m happy to have come across your site and looking forward to hearing more!

  14. I completely agree that this is an excellent mindset to have, always thinking in terms of potential business opportunities. Open up any Sky Mall magazine on any airplane and you’ll find 200 pages of ideas that clearly come from entrepreneurial thinking individuals acting on a random, yet useful, idea they had.

    I’m happy to have come across your site and looking forward to hearing more!

  15. great idea colin! we have the same issue in Sydney… altho there are regulatory issues around taxi’s giving preference. Even tho in the real world they have a preference for scantily clothed women, technically they are not allowed to.

    What I am more concerned with, is if you knew that you were gunna be locked down in a bar due to bad weather (I am assuming it was still open) why didnt you just get hammered and enjoy yourself? :P

  16. great idea colin! we have the same issue in Sydney… altho there are regulatory issues around taxi’s giving preference. Even tho in the real world they have a preference for scantily clothed women, technically they are not allowed to.

    What I am more concerned with, is if you knew that you were gunna be locked down in a bar due to bad weather (I am assuming it was still open) why didnt you just get hammered and enjoy yourself? :P

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