Wednesday, October 15, 2008

May I See Your Papers, Please!

We have a cell phone down here with a local Morelia phone number. It's handy to call the cab to take visiting friends to the airport, having a cell phone here is only used for basics.
People down here do not talk on the phones like in the states. They actually come and visit, sit down, have a cup of weak see through coffee and spend eye to eye contact with you discussing the topic of the day and catching up.
This is something we have lost in the US.
Anyway our phone has been acting up lately and we visited our local Telcel centro de Servicio store to upgrade to a new phone we already purchased.
This relatively simple procedure (in the US) which takes about 4 to 5 minutes totaled to about 2 hours.
First of all you take a cue in a wining line which when straightened out would be about a 100 feet, after your wait of about 25 minutes you come up to a clerk who asks you for your phone number and name.
With the magic of electronic communications she types in the information and then we wait. She scrolls down through a screen or two then stops, possibly waiting for the screen to fill up maybe possibly watching a commercial, who knows?
Keep in mind that we're not signing up for new service, purchasing a new phone, or requesting our social security benefits here, all we want is what is called an ESN change, the meter is at about 1 hour at this point. Oh yes, she has left her position and consulted with a higher authority's at least twice during this transgression.
Back to the window.
She then picks up the new phone and again writes down our phone number underneath her previously written line of our previously written phone number on her little scrap of paper she is using for her memos.
Mexican business do not use post its. Why? Because every scrap of possible paper is a post it! Backs of bags, backs of used envelops, back of a cash register receipt from the last one or two store purchases, they have all been trained to use up every list bit of open space on any piece of paper than may be handy.
At this juncture she then asks to see my ID. I smartly present her with my US passport. She looks at it, fanning the pages as if to see if any freshly printed bills may drop out, checks out my last 5 years travel itineraries, and hands it back to me saying that she needs proof that we are legal residents in the country.
I then give her my Mexican FM3 which is their equivalent to our green card. My wife then asks one simple question to which I have no response.
She says " Why in the US can anyone by a phone, not show a credit card or any identification, and walk out with a working phone?"
Maybe because we make it too easy for anyone to do anything without "Showing their Papers"

We then made the mistake of asking that the phone be authorized for long distance....... that took another 20 minutes to accomplish, for a total time of about 2 hours. See what did I tell you! Time is not important down here, to them, to anyone except to us.

Guess what?

We returned home and tried the new phone. It works worse than the one we were trying to replace. In fact it doesn't work well enough for us to use it at home to call the cab. So back to the Centro De Servicio, to autorize the original phone. We have plenty of time.........

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