Thursday, November 08, 2007

Looking for the Light

When things go wrong around here, it exhausts me. It's not just the language that gets in the way, but figuring out how things are done.

Last Sunday, turning on the coffee maker caused all the power in the house to go off. And stay off. We called our landlord's assistant and they immediately sent a maintenance man (on a moto) to check it out. On a Sunday afternoon. So I was feeling very fortunate for how things work in Mexico, with people available immediately on a Sunday afternoon.

The problem was, Juan Carlos couldn't fix it. He tried and tried, scaling the side of our house and teetering along the roof by the wires. He plugged and unplugged things. He removed fuses and changed them. He took apart the refrigerator. He called around and decided we needed a new...something...it looked like a cable in a box. He asked if I could get one and I said I probably couldn't because, well, how could I? And what would I do with it if I got one, anyway?

So we tipped him and he returned the next day with the thing. But still it didn't work. We had half our lights and no refrigerator.

Four days later, all our food went bad and stinky and I felt a little desperate. In the darkness of the late afternoon, we accidentally locked ourselves out of our own bathroom and had no key. Max was doing homework outdoors, trying to catch the last rays of sun.

The mommies at Max's school, who I cherish and who love to advise and chide me (thank goodness), told me I would have to visit The Commission. Oh god, I didn't like the sound of that. It's the Electric Company, but Mexican government style, surrounded by guys with big guns.

Instead I called my landlord's staff again. They said to be patient. I went next door to the little store I love that is attached to our house. I shared my troubles with Julita, the proprietress, who said, "For the rent you're paying, you should get better service."

She gossiped about my difficulties to a neighbor, who took it upon herself to come over and instruct me in how to call The Commission. Which I did. The repairman came within an hour of the call. He backed his immense truck and crane into our driveway, trotted up to the wires, and had all our power on in five minutes. And just like the difficulty of having no electricity had loomed so large in my life for five days, having it fixed seemed nothing short of a miracle. Even though, all told, I had involved twelve people in my problem. Gossip--that's my kind of Google.

1 comment:

Clara said...

Let's hear it for old-fashioned networking! Glad you're able to see the light again. I thought of you yesterday as I was preparing our Thanksgiving feast, wondering how warm and beautiful it was in Oaxaca and whether or not you were feeling at all homesick. Doesn't sound like it - you seem to have found your true place! Keep those cards and letters coming.