Rarely do I use the air-conditioner in my apartment here in Mexico. As long as I open up all the windows, turn on the two main fans in the living room and open the balcony door, the temperature inside is usually bearable, even when the temperature outside reaches 100 degrees (35 C). Usually.
Last Monday, this was not the case as my lungs and nostrils seemed to catch fire with every breath I inhaled and walking from the bedroom to the kitchen felt like I was swimming through a hot tub filled with molten lava. Okay, it wasn’t that bad but I was sweating heavily despite sitting directly under the fan.
And so, on this occasion, I decided to turn on the air-conditioning unit for the first time. Unfortunately, when I pressed the “ON” button on the remote control, nothing happened, and after opening the unit and fiddling around with buttons and levers for five minutes, of which I know absolutely diddly about, it was time to call the landlord.
Our landlord is a wonderful young lady and so, two days later, she arranged for a repairman to come to the apartment to fix the air-conditioner.
Most of us have dealt with plumbers, electricians and appliance repairmen at some point in our lives, but I’m not too sure how many of you have dealt with plumbers, electricians and appliance repairmen in Mexico.
Believe me, there’s a difference.
When the doorbell to my apartment rang, I enthusiastically opened the door, knowing that cool air was on its way. However, I found myself a little stunned by what I saw. Then I remembered that I was in Mexico and so I quickly welcomed into my apartment the team of 8 people who had arrived to fix the one air-conditioning unit.
The actual repairman (yes, there was only one repairman in this group) turned out to be the father of the three teenage children in the group as well as the husband of the sole female present and the friend of the other three guys. It appeared that everyone was there to lend a helping hand but apart from the repairman, the rest of the gang just stood around at first.
Less than five minutes after the repairman opened up the air-conditioner unit on the wall, he suddenly climbed back down his small ladder and called out to Liz and I in the kitchen, where we were sitting on stools, trying to get some work done. Did the repairman need a screwdriver? Or maybe a rag? Perhaps he forgot his pliers and was wondering if we had a pair to lend him?
Nope, nope and nope.
The repairman asked us if we had a Wi-fi signal in the apartment and when we told him that we did have an internet connection, he asked if his wife could have the password. He explained that she needed to log-in to her mobile phone account because she was having trouble activating the new mobile phone she had just purchased.
Sure, why not.
The wife then sat down at the dining room table and pulled a netbook out of her purse. At around the same time, one of the sons disappeared outside for a few minutes, only to return from a trip to the family’s car that was parked in front of the building with two large plastic bags full of chips, soda and other snacks, which he began to distribute to the others.
Of course, the fact that the air-conditioner wasn’t being worked on at all apparently seemed strange only to us, as the repairman and his wife seemed perfectly content checking emails on the netbook while the others sat around the living room eating.
This behavior was so confusing to me that, after thirty more minutes passed, I felt that maybe I was supposed to invite them all for a swim in the pool, cook them a meal or offer them the guest bedroom in case any of them felt like taking an afternoon nap. Clearly, nobody had any intention of fixing the air-conditioner any time soon, and so I just accepted the fact that I might have some new flatmates for a while.
At one point, the repairman stood up and walked towards his ladder, leading me to believe that it was finally time to fix what he was supposed to fix. But, not too surprisingly, he just pulled out his other mobile phone and began making phone calls instead.
THE PARTY COMES TO AN END
Three of the men did eventually decide to leave, apparently not too impressed with the party that we had thrown for them, which I thought was going quite well considering that earlier in the day we had no idea we would have to throw a party for the air-conditioner repairman, his family and his friends. Sure, there was no wine and cheese but we did offer them water and fruit, and free Wi-fi.
The repairman and his family remained inside of my apartment for a total of 3 hours and luckily, towards the end of those 3 hours, he did fix the air-conditioner, which only ended up taking 10 minutes of dedicated work.
And when they did get up to leave, I found myself as confused as when I had first opened the door and saw all eight people. It now felt as if this family had been staying with us for a week and so I wasn’t sure if I should give them all hugs and invite them back for another visit sometime.
Of course, once the repairman handed me the bill for his services, I no longer felt like giving anybody a hug and was more than content with giving him a quick “Gracias, adios!” instead.
And then, as I spent the following few minutes after their departure cleaning up potato chip crumbs from the floor, all I could think about was the next repairman that was scheduled to work on our apartment.
Next Tuesday someone is coming over to start fixing the floor that suddenly lifted up, exploded and cracked into pieces last week due to the extreme heat. I guess I should start planning the menu and entertainment schedule before he and his entourage arrive.