Apr 18, 2012

Loving Panama on a "Bad Hair Day"

I've been complaining for 3 days about an unidentified, downed wire that is hanging from a telephone pole to the ground in front of my house. 

The electric company came out and said the wire wasn't theirs and therefore they couldn't touch it.  They said it belonged to the cable company.  I called the cable company, who initially refused to  accept my report of the problem because I wasn't a customer.  They told me a customer needed to report the downed wire.  In the best Spanish I could muster, I got a little testy.  I emphasized that I had no way of knowing who their customers were, but their wire was impeding exit and entrance to my house. I insisted on speaking with a manager.  I was told there was no manager available who spoke English.  I hadn't been speaking English during our conversation, and advised the male service rep I'd be just as happy to complain to a Spanish speaking manager.  On hold for 45 seconds, and then the rep came back on and agreed to report the problem to a local technician.  The local tech came out, looked at the wire, and left claiming it didn't belong to the cable company.  As a last resort I called the DSL company, who agreed to send a tech out the next day.  (I was sure the wire didn't belong to them, but I was feeling desperate) 

To make a long story short, the DSL technician arrived today and said the wire wasn't theirs, as I expected.  I gave him a synopsis of my issues to date.  He agreed to take the wire down despite the fact it didn't belong to them, and called for approval from someone in head office.  10 minutes later the problem was solved and I got two follow up calls from the office to ensure that there was no interruption in either my phone or internet service.  I assured them everything was fine and thanked them profusely. 

While the DSL guy was driving off,  my carpenter arrived four days early with two beds I had contracted him to build.  He helped me move my furniture and get the old beds out.  Then he installed the new beds and helped me put everything back in order again.  I wasn't prepared to pay him since he came 4 days early.  Not a problem !  Just bring the money by his shop when I had the chance to get to the bank.  I assured him it would be today, as soon as I could change clothes and head into town.  

I climbed into the shower and had just soaked down and soaped up when the electricity went off.   Since I have an on-demand electric water heater, this greatly affected my shower experience.  Rinsed off and tried to get the shampoo out of my hair with cold water in the dark.  ARGHHH! 

Got dressed, and after realizing my neighbors on both sides had electricity,  checked my breaker box.  No tripped switches.  What to do next?   Decided to call a contractor I know for help.  The contractor arrived 20 minutes later, fiddled with a few things and fixed the problem.   He brought his wife and baby daughter along to meet me, given we had discussed his family on prior occasions.  I had a nice visit with them while he worked.   He charged me nothing for coming out and fixing things.

After they left,  I headed out to the car to go to the bank to pay the carpenter.  My neighbor caught me as I was getting in and bent my ear for 15 minutes about cooking and plants and I can't remember what else.   Finally managed to end the conversation and climbed into my car.  The car wouldn't start and I noticed I had left the lights on since yesterday afternoon. UGH!  Dead battery

Another phone call, this time to the mechanic.   Ten minutes later he was at my house and removing the battery from the car.  He then took it back to his shop to assess and re-charge if possible.  He dropped me off at the bank and said he'd bring the battery back in a few hours.  The carpenter told me not to worry about payment.  I could come by tomorrow or the next day.

So far I've gotten everything taken care of without shelling out a single dime or straying far from my house.   And I've had pleasant visits from four people.  Goes to show it really is all about who you know.  I dread the thought of how all this would have gone down in California. 

This is the contractor's one-year-old daughter, Ana.  Isn't she a sweetie?