Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Perfect Ending to My Crappy Week

Excuse my French, but last week was the worst in recent memory.

I am not naive as to the how things work (or don't work) in Latin America. I am a veteran with almost 8 years under my belt of trying to suppress the American in me when it comes to punctuality and efficiency. I do pretty well most of the time about being patient, but last week was like nothing I've ever experienced before.

Last I posted was on Wednesday when I had 5 problems to solve. Let's see how that went:

1) Hot water heater: I mentioned that the guy came at a time when the heater WAS working (it turns itself off at random times, especially when I want to wash dishes). He first quizzed me to see if I really knew how to turn on the hot water and then gave me this little note just to drive home the point that I am the stupid, clueless gringo:

That says "heater functioning perfectly". Alrighty then.

I was ticked and said, "um, no, actually it is not functioning perfectly" and he said, "well, you have to call me when it's not working." I said, "That's always on a Sunday" and he, very nicely gave me his cell phone number and said I could call him ANYTIME, even at midnight and he would come fix it.


So, it stopped working Friday night. I didn't think I should call him on a Friday night EVEN THOUGH he said I could call him even at midnight. When it still wasn't working Saturday around noon, I had Gaupo call him and tell him it wasn't working.

His reply?

"Sorry, you'll have to call the office on Monday"


The good news (???) is that it is still not working, so I am hoping tomorrow it will continue to be dead and that guy will come and see it really is broken and it's not just that I don't know how to turn on the faucet.

2) Modem/Router: The guy came back Thursday and determined there was no problem with anything. (Eerily close to what the hot water technician told me...). It does seem to be working for longer spurts now, so it's not my biggest complaint right now.

3) Washing Machine: Ugh. This story is just too long and boring to blog about, but when the guy showed up Thursday (I was thinking he was going to do the repair because that's what they told me), he was just there to give us an estimate (which is exactly what the other guy did the day before). He was now telling us it wasn't under warranty, and that they would have to order the part blah, blah, blah.

I was visibly irritated at this point, and he did what he could to find the part and do the repair that day. He stayed around my house until 7:00 pm waiting for the part to show up. He puts it in, turns it on...and...

Nothing. The new part is defective. Of course it is. He tells me he'll be back the next day (Friday) at 11:00 with another part.

No show.

No call.

Nothing resolved.

4) Water Filtration System: The plumber after not showing up for 4 days finally comes and installs a new system. Good news right?

He also somehow turns off the water pump (which unlike the water faucet, I actually don't know how to turn on and off), so shortly after he leaves we have no water. We call, wait and wait and wait and finally his boss comes and insists that his worker didn't mess with the pump and I explained to him that it was working when he got here and not working when he left. He eventually believed me and fixed the problem.

5) Phone, In-house phone: still not working, the guy never came back to fix the damage he did to the land line.

So, if this wasn't all enough, Friday, my car also died when we were out and about. It needed the battery replaced. No big deal, but in light of all the other problems it was quite annoying.

And then the GRAND FINALE.

Vanessa, our pregnant maid, had a doctor's appointment on Friday morning. So she shows up that afternoon around 3:00, somewhat flustered. She's jabbering on about how her baby might be born THAT NIGHT, or the NEXT DAY. Why Vanessa, are you having contractions? No. Are you dilated? No. She didn't sleep the night before and she's really uncomfortable. A lot of pressure on her hips. Um, yeah, that's called being 6 1/2 months pregnant with your 4th kid.

Now, in a normal pregnancy in Brazil, a woman would work until they reach 36 weeks at which time the woman goes on maternity leave and the State pays her salary for the following 4 months (4 1/2 if she's breast-feeding). Giving her 4 weeks of leave before the birth.

She is only 30 weeks along. So, I ask her if she's going to start her maternity leave now since the birth is so eminent.

Um, no, actually the doctor gave her a note for (surprise, surprise) 15 days rest (anything up to 15 days, the employer pays, over 15 days, the State pays) and then (supposedly) she'll start her leave.

Don't you think, if a doctor really believed that a woman who is only 30 weeks along was going to deliver within hours, they would admit her to the hospital?

She just totally got 2 extra weeks of maternity leave. Paid for by me. And if I don't pay her because I think she's full of crap, she can sue us. And she'll win.

So, she's gone. I wish I could say that will be the end of the story, but we are financially tied to her for the next 5 months (we have to continue paying her taxes throughout her leave) and then when we go to fire her when she's done with her leave, we will have to pay her another month's salary. Makes my blood boil.

This week has got to be better.


I promise I'll post something happy this week.

That is, as long as I have Internet access.


Mrs. S said...

Holy crap. You have had a BAD week. That is a lot of problems in a short amount of time. This next week has definetely GOT to better!

Janice said...

Don't feel obligated to post anything happy this week unless you actually have happy news, like the washer being fixed, etc.

So sorry.

Kari said...

Bleah. Makes me happy to "only" have had to pay our maid 2 or 3 extra months when we moved back to the U.S... and now I'm also glad she was past the having-babies age!

Hang in there! You're awesome!

Fabiola said...

Do you feel like you have 2 left feet like I do?? I think we can make a story for some of the brazilian tabloids, you with the appliances and me... well you read it on my blog. I just changed my MSN sentence to "Thing always get worse before they get better. " And I can tell you, things are getting darker by the hour on my side of the road.

I DO HOPE you have a better week.


Awesome Mom said...

Ugh sounds like a truly sucky week! Things have to get better.. I hope.

Maine Mom said...

I'm bummed to hear that things are worse and not better! I do hope there is something happy to write about this week. :-)

Ballerina Girl said...

Call me...
that's all I can think of to say!
well, and fire her anyways, pay her EVERYTHING now and just get rid of her. That's what I would do. You have to pay her whether you let her go now or later, so just get her out!
love u!

Calandria said...

that does sound really crappy. there's not better word for it. :( sorry things got worse!

No Cool Story said...

¡Llueve sobre mojado!

What is happening over there? I feel for you Gabs. I am so sorry
No fun at all.
I am glad you got to vent though.

Janet said...

Bummer week. Sounds like you need another vacation! Hope this week is better for you. :)

Code Yellow said...

The maternity thing is the most annoying of all. Gotta love "the system," eh?

Hope things get better. Water, internet and all. Hang in there!

Mama Ava said...

Oh this sounds so much like my life in Tanzania. People promising to come, not showing, bringing the wrong parts, etc. Except there we would often have to pick up and drive the people to our house so they could find it and often pick up parts if they were too big for a bicycle.

And, I never got to the level of being able to really work through these kinds of house problems in Swahili so there was always that.

At least here in Beijing, punctuality is much more valued and I can call my landlady if I have trouble