Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I speak Spanish but not Mexican

Mexican logic, that is.

My first mistake was measuring the windows in inches (Miguel has 'borrowed' my metric measuring tape once again, I only had the old one).

But no problem, I know how to convert. 1 inch=2.54cm

I had my diagrams of doors and windows and cubby holes with the measurements (non-metric) written on the appropriate part of the diagram.

I found some fabric I really liked, and went in search of someone to help me.

She pulled out a piece of paper and proceeded to transcribe the numbers from my diagram. I tried to tell her my numbers were not metric, if she would give me a minute I would do the calculation.

78" x 2.54 = 198.12.  I told her I needed 200 cm. Her eyes almost popped out of her head and she gasped "Wow". She declared she didn't have enough fabric for me - what kind of door was I talking about, anyway?

A double door I said - for a patio. Standard size. Her skeptical look told me she thought I was nuts. 200 m is standard size?

Ah, finally I understood - I was speaking centimeters and she was speaking meters. Wow is right - imagine a door 200 m wide!!

Now that we had that out of the way...were my measurements exact or were they the size of the door? Um - they were the size of the door, and I wanted the curtains to have some fullness so the width of the door needed to be multiplied by 1.5.

She added 10 cm on each side for hems - but did not change the width to give the extra fullness. so I decided to fudge the numbers - tell her the width multiplied by 1.5, more or less. She crossed out some numbers, sighed and chewed on her gum, and worked the calculator once more.

What was the height? More fudging, more calculations and more gum chewing...

What kind of top would I be doing? she asked as she folder her paper to demonstrate a rod pocket. She pointed to some curtains on the wall to show me tab top. I wasn't sure why that really mattered, but I told her I wanted tab top.

While she punched numbers into her calculator and scribbled them onto her paper I converted the remaining measurements. In the end she came up with a number, which was too much. She didn't have that much fabric of the one I'd picked - "go and pick something else", she ordered.

So I picked something else but she still didn't have enough, and then the next one was a different width and she would have to redo all the calculations. More sighs and gum chomping.

After having several of my choices rejected, I finally found something in a pile - but it was dirty. And there wasn't any in the back, pick another fabric. So I picked one that I really wasn't sold on, but she liked it - it was 'limpiacito" (very clean). As we finalized the transaction, she told me the curtains would be ready in 8 days. Oh - I didn't know her pricing was based on her assumption that they were going to make the curtains, that's why she cared about the kind of top I wanted. When she'd asked me I don't know...maybe that was one of those questions she threw at me that I hadn't really understood so I just said "yes". But when she gave me the breakdown to have them made, it was a no-brainer - they would make them.

I would have to wait another 8 minutes for the lady who would make the curtains to say if she could make them on the width rather than the height. If not, she would have to redo her calculations.

So I waited, and longingly went back to visit the fabric I really wanted. I could already see those curtains hanging, they would have been perfect.

Back to see the lady to ask her about making the curtains, and then we realized we hadn't ever accounted for the window. So I didn't have enough money with me. She thought I'd just go ahead with the door, but I didn't want to split up the order like that - what if they didn't have the material for the window when I went back?

I will come back, I told her, but I don't live here, I live in Isla Mujeres, so it might take a while. After spending almost an hour with me, trying to figure out what I was trying to tell her, and denying me this fabric and that, I was leaving without spending a single peso. Oh well.

I will be back, but you can be sure all my diagrams will be in meters, and will be the size of the finished product, not the size of a window or door. And I will wait until I find the fabric that I really like, not settle for one just because it hasn't been dragged all over the floor or it's the same width as the one that was already calculated, or there is enough in stock.

And while I'm there, I might have to take a couple meters of that pretty fabric I saw that I have no idea what I will do with it. But I must have it, if she'll let me.


Linda said...

You would never had been very happy with the fabric you didn't really want, so it all came out for the good. Next time you will find one you love!

Isla Chica

Life's a Beach! said...

Next time will be the charm! And I agree with Linda. Maybe there will be enough of a fabric that you truly like!