Saturday, June 28, 2014

Little Boys and Little Fences

I went for a walk tonight and my dogs got away from me. They took off down the street on their own little adventure. A Bonnie and Clyde of sorts.

As I rounded the block, I ran into some kids at the neighborhood park.

¿Quieres que te ayudamos con los perros?

Si! Please!

¿De donde eres? 

Missouri, y ustedes?

I didn't think you were from here! I could tell because of your hair. We're from Denver. Our mom got deported. Our dad still lives in Colorado. He sends us money. We miss him.

All of that in one breath.

From a boy who is probably no older than my son. Maybe 9 or 10? I was overcome with emotions. I thanked the boys for their help and choked back tears as I walked back to the house with Meeko in my arms.

And here I am, feeling more hopeless than ever. Immigration reform? I put it on the back burner mentally. I've given up on it because my heart can't handle the what ifs. And then I happen upon things like this. Situations like this. People like this. Little boys. 

That little boy didn't know anything about immigration law. Or breaking laws. Or jumping fences. Or political parties. Or amnesty.

He was just a little boy who misses his dad and doesn't understand why he has to live in Juárez.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bills Bills Bills

This is going to be a rant. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 
Paying bills in Mexico is a huge pain in the ass. The problem isn’t the money. I mean money is a problem, it always is, but that’s not the problem I want to talk about.
In the US, I utilized things like automatic bill pay through my bank or automatic withdraw to pay bills with a credit card. I could pay my rent with a check. Here I have to go to different stores to pay certain bills and down to a bank to pay my rent. Actually, I can't even pay the rent myself unless I want to take half a day off work because our landlord's bank isn't open on Saturdays.
I know a lot of people have issues with the mail in Mexico. I’m constantly hearing stories from expats. My sister sent me a care package and it’s been 3 months. I ordered a book online and it took 5 months to get to Mazatlan. Sometimes the package has been opened. Sometimes items will be missing. I think a lot of it may have to do with the shipping company. I’m not positive but there doesn’t appear to be a national postal service here like there is in the US. I actually have a mailing address in El Paso (one of the perks of border living) so I can have packages sent there, but nevertheless, I still have a huge hang up with the mail. We regularly get our mail late and/or find it in the middle of the street because the mailman just puts the envelopes in the curves of our wrought iron gate instead of in the actual mailbox so sometimes it blows away in the wind. Irritating beyond all belief.
None of this would really matter to me at all if I could just hop online and view our accounts and pay our bills. I know I mentioned this before in my Shit I Don’t Get About Mexico post and some of you schooled me about being able to pay my utility bills online. I honestly haven't looked into it because all of our money is in a US account and if it's anything like my automatic Netflix Latino payment, it will just become a hassle of international transaction fees and peso to dollar conversions and whatnot. 
So if they don't mail in checks or pay online, how do most people pay their bills in Mexico? Well, there are a couple options. You can go to the grocery store to pay your utility bills at no charge or you can go to each company’s office and pay at no charge. At a convenience store like Oxxo you can pay your utility bills and also other bills (like Cablemas or Telcel) for 7 pesos per bill. Here’s the kicker. Once you reach the 3 days prior to the bill’s due date, you can no longer pay at the convenience or grocery store. So let’s say your electric bill is due on the 9th and it’s the 7th. You can’t go into the store to pay that bill because it’s too late. You’re not late with your payment, but it’s too late to pay at the "convenient" locations.
Now you have to go down to the electric company’s office to pay your bill. Their office is open 8-5 Monday through Friday. I work 8-5 Monday through Friday. In a different country. And I drive our only vehicle to said job. My husband works 6-4 and is a slave to the city bus. This means he has to take time off of work and take 2-3 buses to go down and pay the bill. Two days before it’s even due.
So imagine the fury that runs through me when we receive our last Cablemas bill on April 30th with a due date of May 2nd and May 1st is Labor Day in Mexico. What. The. Hell. That was annoying. But obviously it wasn’t annoying enough for me to mouth off about it a month ago. What brought the whole mail thing full circle was an issue with the gas company.
We get home from work on Wednesday to see that that they have jumped our fence and physically removed our gas meter. They didn’t just shut off the gas, they removed the whole meter. Who does that? Holding our recent paid receipt in hand, Ray calls the gas company, ready to tear them a new asshole.
But instead we learn that we didn't pay a bill a couple of months back. We dig through our receipts and sure enough, don't have one for that month. Now did any of the bills after the fact indicate that we had an previous balance? Nope. Did we get a letter or phone call from the gas company? Nope. 
While I'm racking my brain trying to figure out how we could have possibly missed this bill, Ray goes outside and opens the mailbox. You know, that little box that the mailman has never, ever used in the 2 years that I've lived in this house? Guess what he found inside? Yup, the missing gas bill. Classic.
Señor Mailman: Could you please be a little more consistent? Gracias.