December 25, 2011

Dealing on the wheels

I thought I'd give the issue of my Christmas present to myself a rest over the holiday since it was on the back burner anyway. I couldn't complete the insurance purchase on Christmas Eve day, so it's just sitting there.
For a 10 a.m. appointment to sign the "Vocho" title over and collect 19,00o pesos, Andres aka Luis May, a postal letter carrier, showed up at 10:45. What's the hurry, eh? I had the VW Beetle for nearly a week. I took it for short rides around the block, where I learned it had a fuel thrust problem and called in the electro mechanical pooh ba. Jorge Leon took it for a ride and said, too, that there was a thrust problem and no one on the island with a computer to change the fuel injection chip and tune it properly. He also showed me a CD player/tuner he had that fits a VW Beetle, since this one had a hole where there once was such a thing.
He went to Cancun to a VW shop he trusts and returned without the car. The fuel thrust repeated after the chip was replaced and the computer guy was gone for the day when he returned. So, next day, he went. He came back with a car that purs and a note that there are other minor problems in the computer. And since the VW shop he deals with guarantees its work, he has extracted a promise for them to drop in a rebuilt computer free of charge that would correct those minor problems. Well worth the $40 I paid Leon!
So. Andres May shows up, still a little baffled that I was going to pay less than the 20,000 pesos he wanted. "It's a 150 peso chip," he started. So you knew? But really the chip is nothing without a shop computer to tune it and there isn't one on the island, I start.
OK, OK, he says.
Now, during those days I had the car, I'd been picking up information on May. Knowledge is power, right?
Carmen told me he lives a couple doors away from her and is always selling a VW. Miguel Moreno, when I told him I was getting a VW from May, asked, "The white one?"
So I asked May where he gets those VWs in such good shape. Surprised that I knew so much about him, he blurted out "near or in Merida."
This one came from his village in Campeche. Previous owners were all brothers who transferred it around the family until it went to the woman cousin who sold it to him. He drove it back and his wife drove it around the island.
"This is not some stolen car," he suddenly offered. Well, I see from the title! I was just wondering about all these similar names, I replied.
Anyway, could you give me your number in case one of the foreigners who've been asking want one?
He gave me home and cell and then offered his life story. His father has held the same job for 22 years and was recently released from the hospital after pneumonia that threw him into a coma for two weeks.
His father taught him the only way to succeed in life was to work. day in and day out. Here on the island, most people don't want to work daily. Easy tip money, he offered, has created the mindset. And big money that gringos are willing to pay for small things.
There are people, a lot of them he said, that charge gringos triple and beyond. It's not right, he said.
I know, it winds up costing everyone more in the end. "Exactamente!" he exclaimed. He's got 10 years with the postal service here. That will get him a pension and lifetime health care eventually. He also drives afternoon shift cab for my friend Jose Flores, who took me to his village with his wife Marta several times. He bought the car from Mario Cicero, the owner of Ciro's Golf Cart Rental, but pays him monthly for the license. His Sacalum is the next village over from where Andres is from. Small community, those Maya villages. It's also on the other side of Carmen's village.
Well, he was heartened I'd been to both places. So, who works for you now? he suddenly asked. "Jose Misvalazques, an isleno, and the mechanical consultant was Jorge Leon. My friend Carmen cleans to help support her father in Halacho." He nodded. "So, if you ever need a man to work around here, remember, I was raised to work!" Carmen's daughter at this point yells into the house looking for her mom. "No esta. Trabajando lunes!" Andres smiled.
He hold me now he learned the art of making hats in a cave where the ambient moisture is correct for keeping the reeds pliable until done. His wife has a breakfast shop near the juice joint I go to daily, which is where I spotted the car.
"She is available to clean after closing," he said. We're workers that way."
That said, we signed the title and no sooner was the ink dry than I went to Centro thinking I could immediately insure it at Banamex, the new kid in town, a Citicorp affiliate. "Not here if it's over 10 years old. Open an account, and you can do it on line," said Elvia, my personal banker. "Elvia like Elvis." she said. Elvia como Elvis the pelvico, I said. She snorted.
So, my investment account with a debit card required a ton of paper to be filed in the US for Off Shore investments and three perfectly matching signatures. Don't ask how my sets of paper I went through. I lost count. Insurance can't be bought with an American credit or debit card. So you have to do it and having a visa, a Mexican taxpayer ID and proof of residence (a utility bill in your name) is required. And to see you US Social Security Card and Passport.
And then it took 24 hours for the account to be activated and I still have to wait for a PIN numvber to be mailed.
And when I went to the bank site to buy the liability insurance 24 hourse later, it was so close to closing time Christmas Eve, that I'll just have to wait in line on line for my appoint Monday.But it will be done. Dr. Salas even warned me not to drive without insurance!
Now that I have the papers, I see the 1994 Beetle is Cherry Red. My fist car, a 1964 VW Beetle, was tomato red. A nice distinction. It is really a classy color!
And that's my story of dealing the wheels. Somehow, I think it will lead to other chapters in my life.
It has been said many times that doing business is very personal in Mexico. That the small talk is everything. I now totally agree! It's the deal maker or the deal breaker.

1 comment:

drgeo said...

Get well soon Punta!