Saturday, December 13, 2008

I just came to tell you I'm not coming

We have an on and off again relationship with a carpenter here. He does nice work when he does it. He starts out great - promising something by a certain date, and when he's 'on', he usually hits within a week or so.

So after he completes the first project, we give him something else to do. And then the problems start. He takes the deposit for material, gives us a date when he'll be back to install...and doesn't show up. This starts a daily cycle for by his house, and if he's home, ask him when he's coming.

"Tomorrow - 10 am". Miguel looks him in the eye and says "Sure?". The carpenter looks him back in the eye and swears he will be there. Miguel continues to look him in the eye. "Que mes?" (which month?). The carpenter sheepishly grins but swears he will be there. "Faulta nada" (nothing will keep him away).

This went on a couple of years ago for WEEKS. Finally a threat to go to the police to get back the deposit resulted in a shoddy installation and a broken relationship with a good customer. We moved on to another carpenter - a retired man who is only here now and then. When we passed the other carpenter in the street it was all I could do to wave at him, with gritted teeth.

I figured that carpenter was history, but when the retired carpenter let us down a bit, I was surprised to hear that Miguel had retained the other carpenter again. That is one thing about men and/or Mexicans - they get mad, have it out, but they move past it and are able to continue working with each other. I've seen this over and over, and I don't think women work the same way. Once we have a conflict with someone, that sort of seals the fate of the relationship. At least, that's what I've observed in my working world.

Anyway, so we are back working with this carpenter again, and he told Miguel he saw the error of his ways. He lost a lot of good customers from his unreliable behavior, and those days are over. He will deliver what he promises. And he did, for the first project. And even the second, although he still has a tiny piece to complete. Now we're at the third project and seeing a repeat performance from two years ago.

He says he will be here. He isn't. Miguel drives by his house, looks him in the know the drill.

The other day, after not showing up for more than a week, as promised, he stopped by in the afternoon just to tell us he wasn't coming. I was right there when he promised he would be here tomorrow, it's a free day for him, no other clients needing his attention. 10 am sharp, he will be here.

By three o-clock the next day, having forgotten all about the carpenter until then, we realize he has not shown up. I guess we sort of expect him not to show up, and so he is just meeting our expectations.

So we went to Cancun, and if the carpenter came by just to tell us he wasn't coming, we weren't home to hear it. Take that, you carpenter, you!


IslaZina said...

Yep. We all have the same drill, stare them in the eye, get the sworn commitment. I add a handshake. I don't know if it works, but I've had some luck with it!
Those north of the border and even in other parts of Mexico just have no idea!

Life's a Beach! said...

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Don't know if I'd ever have the patience to live in Mexico! :)

Islaholic Trixie said...

I've noticed the relationship differences also. Maybe I should take a lesson from the Mexican men. As Biggy B says though, "I have the memory of an elephant!"

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! I am not living in Mexico..but have experienced the same thing trying to rebuild here in Louisiana from Katrina. We had a Mexican guy helping us with many things here, floor tile, trim, redoing the fireplace...and he would never be here when he said he would or get things done. ALways looking to the next job for draw on the job. And with working and living in the trailer and locking the dogs up, there were many days of frustration until I said...ENOUGH!! Be here at this time, no more money or no more job!!! He finally got his jobs done..but GRRRRRRR!!! Many others did the same thing, I certainly learned more patience and just go with the flow. Certainly a story I could identify with.

Anonymous said...

These kind of stories seem to be the norm in Mexico from everything I have heard regardless of what area. I know that when I reitre and spend more time in Mexico it will take me awhile to get used to this kind of behavior.

Sue said...

Developing patience is not an option if you want to live here. If you don't have it, you'll go nuts and probably give up and leave. There's something here about workers not wanting to tell you "no", so they tell you "yes" when they really mean "no".

Islagringo said...

I had to laugh at this one! I knew where it was going by the third line. The part I hate the most is staying home waiting for them. I give them an hour leeway now and just forget about them. Run my errands, whatever. A sure fire way to get them to show up though is to lie down to take a nap!

p.s. if those carpenters names do NOT start with an Lu or Ma, give me a shout.

Sue said...

Wayne - we sort of forget about them now too. We had one guy show up about 6 months after he promised to come by and give us a quote - we'd LONG forgotten about him and since it wasn't urgent, the job was still there for him.

You got one of the names, yup. The other is not from the island, he just comes and goes. Old carpenter, he does it for the love of his work, but as we gave him more and more work, he got more and more sloppy. Nice guy though.

Anonymous said...

You know there is a song by that name? "Solo vine a decirte que no puedo venir..." Look for it as sung by Paquita la del Barrio, if you haven't heard it. If you buy a CD, get one that also has "Rata de Dos Patas" on it--it's her most famous song.

Sue said...

Mexico Cooks - I will have to look for that song, no luck on Amazon. I did find the Rata de dos patas and listened to a sample, and yes - I do know that song. Thanks!