Looking for a Story in Cordoba, Argentina

Steve Hartman tries to find a story in Cordoba, Argentina. His translator Martina works the phones.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman has launched the second round of his series "Everyone in the World Has a Story,"throwing a dart at a map of the world, going wherever it stuck and telling the stories of random people.

CORDOBA, Argentina - Day 2

A lot of people fantasize about throwing a dart at a map and going wherever it hits. The idea definitely sounds adventurous. But in reality, darts make pretty bad travel agents. So do astronauts aboard the International Space Station. It's not that there's anything particularly "wrong" with the place they sent me this time. All I'm saying is that there are a lot of better places to spend a holiday.

Fortunately, I didn't come here to Cordoba, Argentina to vacation. I came to this standard South American city of 3 million to select another random Earthling.

Today, I'm happy to report, I have now met that Earthling. And he's a good one. His name is Sandro Giovanini.

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After selecting the 28-year-old randomly from the phonebook and getting his permission, my crew and I went to meet Sandro at his tiny house on the edge of town.

Most people I meet have no idea what their "story" might be. But Sandro was different. He knew right away what his story was.

When Sandro was a teenager, he and his dad started seriously butting heads. They argued about many things, including what Sandro should do with his life. Sandro wanted to go to college, while his dad wanted him to stay on the family farm.

One day they got into such a heated brawl, Sandro decided the only solution was to run away from home. This particular argument was so bad, in fact, his dad even offered to help him pack.

Sandro's father drove him to a rooming house a few miles away, dropped him off and said "I bet you won't make it two months."

} Sandro was just 16-years-old with just 100 pesos in his pocket. It was enough money to rent one bed for one month. With nothing left for food, he survived the next 3 days on a single apple.

Eventually, Sandro got a job as a gardener. He worked from 8 a.m. to noon. Then he went to school from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and ended his day with an overnight shift at a funeral home. "My job there was to watch over the dead as they slept," he said.

With such a busy schedule, Sandro hardly ever had time to sleep himself. But he says that didn't matter. At that point "proving my father wrong was more important than rest."

In the end, Sandro made it the two months ... and beyond. In fact, he has lived on his own ever since. Somehow Sandro avoided the trappings that trip-up most runaways and stuck to his studies. He finished high school and next year he'll graduate from college. He can only wonder how his father would feel about the accomplishment. His dad died five years ago at the age of 47.

Today, Sandro's pride in his success is tempered by his confliction and regret. He wishes he had said some things to his dad and wishes hadn't said others. He broke down as he talked about it.

I think Sandro may have something important to share with the teenagers in our audience: about that fine line between standing-up to your parents ... and stepping all over them.

I think he may also have something to tell parents: about that equally fine line between pushing your kids ... and pushing them away.

I still can't say I'd come back to Cordoba for vacation, but after meeting Sandro and hearing his story, I'm definitely glad I made this trip.

Check back with Couric and Co. for Steve's travel blogs. The rest of Steve's stories are on his "Assignment America" page.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.