It was my hubby’s birthday a couple of days ago, and all in all, I have to say it was not a good day, made especially worse by the simple fact that it WAS his day of birth, thirty-nine years ago – so surely there’s a law or written rule somewhere that says you should get a nice day on your birthday, right? Not necessarily the best-day-of-your-entire-life day – I’m not trying to sound greedy or spoiled here – but just, at a minimum, a “nice” day. I really don’t think that’s too much to ask for, especially for someone as deserving as my hubby.
Now I’ve shared in the past that there really isn’t any postal service here – so our bills tend to show up on an irregular basis. For example, the electric company usually staples our electric bill to our gate each month. This month we have not received a bill, and I will honestly admit that we didn’t realize how much time had passed since we paid last month’s ridiculously high charges. We didn’t realize this fact all the way up until the electric company guy rang our doorbell, pointed to the electric company logo on his uniform and mimed scissors with his fingers. In the 20 seconds it took for me to walk from the gate back into our house he had cut all power to our house (get it? get it? His “scissors” were not a rock-paper-scissors game challenge like I thought… he was letting me know he was cutting the power).
Here in our part of Mexico, if you don’t pay the electric bill (or a phone bill or similar utility charge) – and a few days go by, they don’t mess around – they turn the service off. No warnings, notices in the mail, phone calls. Nada. They didn’t care that we had never received a bill, and as such, didn’t even know how much money we owed them. Power. Cut. Off. On my hubby’s birthday.
Ironically – typically things are done very s l o w l y here in Mexico. Our immigration paperwork took about 4 months longer than what we were told. 4 months – not days or weeks: but four freaking months – on something as important as legal documentation. This caused us a good amount of stress these past couple of months during some travels, among other things. But hey, everyone warned us that things are slower here. Another quick example of how slow things can be here is the repairs on our water pump for our fridge (obviously not as important as our legal status in this country, but still an applicable example none the less). The repair guy took the broken pump with him three months ago, and we still haven’t received it back, and last time we checked he’s “still working on it.” Three months and counting to repair a water pump (for a REFRIGERATOR – not for some sort of nuclear reactor or deep sea diving equipment: a freaking refrigerator). It’s been over 90 days. To put things in perspective, do you know the gestation period for wolves? 65 days. So the animal kingdom can come together, create and deliver LIFE quicker than this guy can repair our water pump. And that’s just how things stand now – like I said he’s “still working on it”. For all I know entire canine generations will come and go before we get the repaired pump returned. Seriously?
I think we’ve been really good on adjusting to this slower pace, learning patience, dealing with the stress it causes and purchasing alternative water delivery methods (insert back pat here). I mean if I have to manually crush my own ice for my martinis, I can do that – I don’t need to rely on the water pump ice maker to spit out crushed ice when I need a stiff drink. I’m nothing if not adaptable.
What I can’t adapt to is this inconsistent regard for time here. It should be the same, across the board – but it’s not and I’m left sitting in my house that is very quiet and quickly getting hot and sticky and my hubby’s bday dinner is getting ruined in the crock pot and his brownies are still a gooey puddle in the cooling oven and all I can think about is that if I was just a little quicker and readily accepted the rock-paper-scissors challenge with a rock (rock beats scissors) then surely they would not have cut off our power.
Back to the hero of my blogs (yes, my poor hubby) – here’s what he had to do (again, remember it’s his birthday). After dealing with my (I’m sure) annoying and hysterical texts and phone calls while at work, he had to call the electric company to find out how much we owed (no bill, remember?). So with the amount we owe in hand, hubby had to then drive to the nearest electric company office to pay the bill (we found out later these offices are only open until 2:30 – hubby got there at 2:25…) With receipt now in hand, hubby returns to his office and has to call the electric company back again to request that our power be turned back on. We were then given a re-activation code and a very sketchy time frame that our power may be turned back on around 7:30 that evening (it wasn’t – yes, shocking, I know). Our next set of instructions now were to either post on our door or hand-deliver this re-activation code to the electric company person when they return to our house to prove we’ve paid the bill (really? In this day and age of digital-information readily accessible by little hand held devices and all these magical clouds everywhere? We had paid the bill – they already had our money – now I had to physically prove to them that they actually had our money?)
Hubby had to unexpectedly work several hours late and by the time he got home the house was completely dark and hot and stuffy (no power = no lights and AC). The replacement taco dinner the kids and I had tried to get him wasn’t correct. In hindsight we were pretty stupid in hoping they’d turn the power on that night and tried to stick it out rather than going to a local hotel (they finally turned the power on about 10am the next day). The next morning was equally unpleasant due to being sleep-deprived (for us all) and getting ready for the day in complete darkness (with the help of a few flashlights – which were completely noneffective as all the kids did was shine the light DIRECTLY into our retinas – I’m still seeing spots today). The icing on the birthday-cake he never got here for my hubby: opening his gifts via flashlight that morning to discover the shirts I got him don’t fit (they never fit and I’m done trying to buy him clothes).
My poor hubby. Although these events might make for a funny story (and dare I suggest an entertaining blog), I’m pretty sure my hubby would have rather endured a nice, boring, nothing-blog-worthy birthday.
We learned our lesson the hard way and have now created monthly reminders on our smartphones about many monthly utilities. We were lulled into a false sense of security because nothing happens all that quickly here – especially compared to our time-sensitive U.S. standards. If a problem occurs, no need to panic – we’ll have time to fix it. We have experienced, first hand, the much slower pace here, be it with something as important as immigration paperwork, or something as trivial as a broken household appliance. But apparently that slower pace doesn’t always apply to everything, and unfortunately we learned that the hard way on a day that was supposed to be “nice”.
A very public and belated happy birthday to my hubby, who I can say dealt with all this drama and stress and frustration and trouble and uncomfortableness with a tired smile and a positive attitude and as much good-nature as tequila can possibly provide. He honestly is an amazing example for our kids, and one I try to aspire to every single day (failing miserably… but I do try).
For the rest of you out there, I finish this blog with a bit of advice that this event has taught me: Fast or slow paced, in the life version of rock-paper-scissors: when someone comes at you with the scissors: you should probably start panicking.