Roni Weiss, Santiago Celebrity

After the cop didn’t continue the investigation into the taxi driver, et. al charging me almost $200 for the ride, I figured my last resort was to try contacting the press.  The Santiago Times is the local English-language newspaper.

Here was their response.


Hi Ronnie (and Peter) –

Ronnie, thanks for your note.  What a terrible experience.

I am sharing your note with Peter Murphy, who happens to be
researching tourism abuse at just this minute.  I am also sharing your
story with staff here at the ST.  We are shorthanded just now, but
maybe someone here will be interested in helping push officialdom
towards some kind of real response…..

Peter, thought you’d like to know. Ben says this subject interests you…..



Ever since the taxi debacle occurred, my plan has been to take it as far as possible with the police, then try with the media and if nothing else happened, write it off as a life experience.  The police part of the story ended when the investigator said he couldn’t do anything without the name of the taxi driver.

So after leaving it alone for a bit, I sent that e-mail out to The Santiago Times, the local English-language newspaper.  Over the course of today, Monday, I received that first e-mail, then, while I was at the bank, cashing my work checks, I got a call from Peter Lewis, who works for a bicycle tour company and is somehow connected to Gustavo,
who works for Canal 13, a major TV station in Santiago.  Peter Lewis told me that Gustavo would be calling in the next hour or so, and sure
enough, he did.

Gustavo and I scheduled an interview for today at 1:35 PM.  Stupid me
had my times an hour off (class goes from 1-2:30 PM), so I tried my
best to contact Gustavo, but no luck.  But I received a call from him
while I was still in class (I had already warned my students that I
might be getting said call) and he said 2:35 PM was no problem.  I had
thought that we would be sitting down together and just chatting a bit
to see if he thought there was a story to be had.  I had thought
through the various scenarios of how a lunch appointment might work in
terms of whether he’d be paying or not.

When I walked out to where we were supposed to meet (by the metro
station), there was a film crew set up (well, a camera guy and a
sound/crew guy).  I imagined that this had something to do with
something else, as this is a very central part of town.  But no, this
was for me.  Gustavo and I chatted for a little about what happened
with the taxi stuff, then asked me if I spoke Spanish.  I said a
little, so they put the microphone on me, told me not to move my feet,
to look at him and we started to do the interview in Spanish.  We were
standing in front of where the taxis are in this little cul-de-sac.
After I muddled my way through, we did it a second time in English and
he said that he would probably be able to edit it to use both.  Then,
they took some establishing shots of me walking and said that they
would try to see if they could get a taxi driver to let me in the car
for another shot.  Gustavo leaned in and said that they wouldn’t be
telling the driver what this was all about.  They said that I was
going to go in the taxi and that I would just go around the
cul-de-sac.  I warily asked if they were sure.  We had a good laugh
about this.  Took the shot of me in the taxi.  The taxi driver seemed
to be a little confused about it all.

I asked Gustavo what the chances were of this actually getting used.
He explained that they wanted to go to the airport and find the guys
and film them, asking them why they do this.  This was *exactly* like
my fantasy of what I wanted to happen with my investigation and then
with the media afterward.  It made me so unrepentantly excited.  We
agreed that on Thursday, we’ll go to the airport to try to make this

They took some final shots of me walking off and I went back to work
to gloat.  I opened up my e-mail.  Earlier, I had e-mailed to the
publisher of The Santiago Times a copy of my old mass e-mails about
the whole taxi situation and said that if there was anything that
could be used from it, to let me know.

His response:

Hi Roni –

My hunch is that your letter to friends would serve as a great
“Feature Story” for the ST some day soon.  So, with your permission, I
will edit it a bit tonight and publish some time later this week???


Few people have seen me this excited.  Sean has, back in the Haggett
cafeteria, when I ran around the table a few times.  The citizens of
Seattle and my friends who received calls early in the morning,
outside of Seattle U. after a late night…  But today, the people at
work got to see me hopping and tap dancing and sliding onto the floor
of the teacher’s room.  Just unbounded energy and joy.

As for more details of the interview:

He had me explain the whole situation in English, then Spanish.  If
I’m not nervous about my Spanish enough as is, imagine being filmed
speaking crappy Spanish.  It’s funny, because it wasn’t the camera
that made me nervous, but the guy that was peering through it.  After
that, he asked me what I did after the police didn’t do anything
(hinting at my own investigation), which I relished in.  Then he asked
how things have been in general with Chile and such, because the piece
is about tourist impressions of Santiago.  I told him fine, but this
wasn’t a great first impression.  He seemed to be into what I was
saying, but perhaps that’s just his job.  But I know that he was
definitely impressed with the fact that I had my own investigation.

So yeah, that’s where things are at.  Heady, exciting times.  And I
predicted it, vaguely.  Yesterday, I said I felt like life’s momentum
was increasing.  And so it is.  As of now, there’s really only one
thing missing to make me really, truly happy all around.  But hey, as
I was singing on my way back to the apartment, “You Can’t Always Get
What You Want.”

But a boy can dream.  And he does.


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