Coming down the Estadio metro stairs I saw the line. Clogging the sidewalk, it weaved like a snake made of people through tiny cinder block buildings that served as food and drink stands between 47th and 48th Street. It was mildly annoying to push through the people. I wasn’t alone in my annoyance, all of the cinder block stand owners had annoyed expressions on their faces.
When I finally got to 48th Street I came the terminus of the line. It was yet another cinder block stands, this one with people gathered around it drinking from oversized plastic cups. The sign said Jugos Milos del Estadio. I subvocalized that into English, “Milos Stadium Juices.”
I shrugged and started to walk past the stand. In South America they drink Milo-brand chocolate malt powder in milk as a health drink, even if there’s nothing healthy about it. Here in Medellin they add fresh fruit to the mix and you can buy it on every street.
Yet as I walked past the stand, I noted to myself that Jugos Milos del Estadio had not walls of cinder block, but rather stacks of milk crates, buckets of chopped fruits, and huge boxes of Milo powder. And all of it was centered around a man throwing those ingredients into four Vitamix blenders with inhuman speed and precision. Those blenders sang for the man, and when they paused for breath he poured out their contents into big plastic cups. These he handed over to fawning customers, who gushed their happiness at him.
I glanced behind me and saw that even now, in the middle of the afternoon heat, the line remained strong. If anything, it had grown.
The blenderman had a gift, there was no doubt about it. His business was so good he could afford to import Vitamix blenders to Colombia was proof of it. Vitamix is an US-based manufacturer which makes the best industrial blenders in the world. Expensive machines, they can last through a decade of hard abuse.
This was it, a business opportunity. Encapsulated in a drink stand. It was why I had come to Medellin, to grow a small idea into something to shake the foundations of the world.
I turned around and put myself at the end of the line.
The wait took an hour. I spent that time on my phone. I took a few pictures, practiced how to say “I have a business proposition” in Spanish, and used social media to research Jugos Milos del Estadio. It had a following, one that was loyal to the point of insanity.
Finally I stood before the blenderman.
“¿Qué deseas?” he asked.
“Leche de fresa,” I answered.
“Tres mil pesos,” Blenderman said, indicating a helper whose job it was to handle money.
I paid and watched the show. With the practice of a million repetitions Blenderman tossed a cup of strawberries into a blender, added a scoop of milo, ripped open a new container of milk, and turned it on. This happened so fast I could barely follow him.
I grinned. Time to change both our lives with my business proposition. I wasn’t worried about my lack of vocabulary, I’m good with accents so I knew he would be surprised by how little spanish I knew. “Tengo una propuesta de negocios,” I said.
Blenderman raised an eyebrow. He peered into my eyes…
Then Blenderman frowned and said, “No.”
“¿Por qué?” I asked.
“I have no time for another of your destructions,” he responded in heavily accented English.
“My destructions?” I said, switching to English, my heart racing.
“I can see it on your fingertips,” Blenderman said. “Everything you touch turns to ash.”
“Yes, I’ve fast and broken a lot of things, but that’s the mantra of the startup world,” I said.
Blenderman shook his head. “Your touch is death,” he said. “How many successes have you had?”
“It doesn’t matter, I’ve got connections. I can get us venture capital. People love your brand, we can expand it to all of Colombia. All of South America!”
“How many times you succeed in business?” Blenderman asked again.
“Many times,” I said. “I always get investors.”
The blender stopped singing. Blenderman emptied its contents into one of the cups. He held it as if he was about to pour it onto the ground, a clear threat. He demanded, “Not loans! How many times you succeed in business?”
“None,” I croaked.
“I’m not interested,” Blenderman said “You convince people to invest their time and their money into you. Then you kill their dreams and with that, their lives. But I know you, angel de la muerte.” He handed me my drink of strawberry milo milk.
I took a gulp of the potion he had concocted. It was delicious. It tasted too good to be of this world. I looked at Blenderman and he nodded. “Angel de la muerte,” he whispered.
I nodded back to Blenderman. Reminded of who I was, I handed the cup to the next customer, spread my wings, and flew back to heaven.