July 07, 2016

Free tolls in Argentina!

Countries and regions

How observing tolls on highways in Argentina allows us to discover another mode of reasoning!

Free tolls in Argentina!

Object lessons in Argentina

Buenos Aires return home after a sunny weekend in the countryside. Around 5 p.m., cars arrive in large numbers at the toll booth and start queuing. The horns start to sound louder and louder, the barriers miraculously open and the drivers move forward without paying their tribute! The traffic jams form again after the toll has not been paid. This phenomenon is reproduced at each toll; then the horns stop because the barriers remain open until there are fewer people!

French reactions

  • I have never observed a similar phenomenon elsewhere. You have to see it to believe it.
  • It's really fun !
  • Argentinians seem to get what they want by making noise!
  • What impatience! What's the point of getting excited since they are stopped again after the toll booth?
  • If tolls on highways in Argentina only operate when traffic is flowing, revenues must be very meager!
  • Honk your horn to get the barriers to open and don't pay! How can we imagine such a surreal phenomenon in France, a country where protest is strong and arrangements with the rule are possible?

Responses from Argentinians

There is nothing surreal about this, on the contrary it is logical and effective. When you take a road, there is no toll. If we choose to take the highway and therefore pay, it is to go faster and save time; it would therefore be absurd to pay to be blocked!

This is perfectly logical reasoning that Descartes would not deny.

In order to make traffic flow more smoothly, Argentine road regulations provide for the possibility of opening barriers when the wait exceeds 2 minutes and the queues of cars cross a demarcation line. The concert of horns helps the agents by warning them that the line has been reached and that it is time to open.

Two opposing logics

The same experience seen on both sides of the Atlantic does not have the same meaning. This anecdote reveals to what extent we are influenced by our own culture in our way of approaching situations, our reasoning, our interpretations. Ethnocentrism guides our first reactions and then leaves room for stereotypes and prejudices. We must therefore make a real effort to imagine that there could be other explanations than ours.

We then enter the domain of interculturality which allows us to put on other glasses and see a large number of possible options appear. Intercultural astonishmentis a turn of mind, a daily gymnastics, a particular know-how that leads us to question ourselves before judging and allows us to be Out of the box. So many sources of creativity and opportunities to enrich ourselves!

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