Thursday, March 22, 2012

MysteriousMotorist and the Water Crisis

Paying bills is a part time job. Not the earning-money-to-pay-them part. That's far more pleasant in most cases. Actually paying the bills: water, electric, phone are all a black hole for time. And energy. And patience. Paying bills pre-island life was so simple that I can't even remember how we did it. Mailed a check? Paid online? Credit card over the phone? They were probably all options, none of which involved having to leave the house and all of which took mere moments of one's day. The kind people who wanted our money made sure it was extremely easy for us to appease their eager palms.
The 21st century has yet to arrive to many a company here on the island. I understand that the water company and the electric company have yet to find a better way for their customers to pay. They have a couple places in town where you can take your bill (you must have that precious paper, otherwise you can't be helped) and pay it. What has me utterly baffled, however, is why our phone company--the largest mobile phone network in the Americas--does not provide online bill pay. A company that offers internet service, mobile phones, cable, land lines, the gamut of tele-services can only accept in-person payments at one of their offices (and with the bill, of course). But I'm still not ready to talk about our cell phone saga.
Josh and I have been traveling quite a bit in the last few weeks and consequently have been neglectful of a few responsibilities. No worries, the children are fine. We have, however, run into a slight hiccup with one of our bills. We were home, we forgot. We were out of town, we couldn't. And the cycle continued until the threat came. 'Twas careless, indeed. Martine, our loving housemate, called since we were out of town. Again.
"They came to shut off the water," she said, gently.
"Oh geez! Can you pay it? I'll pay for a taxi there and back even. We'll owe you big time."
"Sure thing." And we hung up the phone, relieved that someone in our household is responsible.
She went on Wednesday and paid our bill. Done. Water crisis averted.
On Friday, as we crossed back through the country on our way back to Santiago, a motorcycle pulled up to our house. Martine, happily preparing breakfast for the wee one, noticed him. But MysteriousMotorist never said anything and stayed outside the gate working on something in the sidewalk. The gardener from next door who we've employed a handful of times noticed the motorist struggling and helped him out. Then MysteriousMotorist vroomed off as suddenly as he'd appeared, never removing his helmet. Huh.
Water. Shut. Off.

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