Saturday, December 11, 2010

five is a lonely number

One -- you can do, easily.

Two -- possible.

Three -- with a miracle.

Four --fuggedaboutit.  

Getting things done in Mexico is one of the adventurous joys that separates the expatriate doers from the whiners.  To know the true joy of hunting down a lamp switch that will survive more than a week's use is to understand the essence of Nirvana.

But there is a limit to joy.  Our usual formulation in these parts is: "I never plan to do more than one thing in any given day.  I do it.  Then I take a siesta.  Unless the one thing is a siesta.  And then I do that."

I am here to say that 7 December 2010 is going down on my calendar as a day of unexpected grace.  Not only was it my brother's birthday, I may have set a Mexican world record.

For almost a month, I allowed the naysayers to convince me that opening up a checking account at a Mexican bank is right up there with slaying The Hydra.  I steeled myself on Monday to walk over to the bank.  The place looked like a boarding area in O'Hare Airport.  People everywhere.  And no apparent order.  I retreated.

And returned on lucky Tuesday.  When I walked in the door, the place was almost deserted.  A very polite clerk asked (in halting English) if he could help.  I responded (in abbreviated Spanish) yes.  I told him I wanted to open a sister account with my American bank.

I came armed with documents -- positive that I would need to make at least a second visit.  Out came my passport, my FM-3, and a copy of a utility bill.  He typed, copied, and printed.  Within a few minutes, I had a stack of papers in front of me that required more signatures than President Obama on a good day.

In no more than 45 minutes, I was standing on the street in front of the bank with an operational ATM card in my hand, a deposit in my new bank account, and the day open to whatever I wanted to do.

A wise man would have called it quits.  But I am not a wise man.  I decided to get a haircut.

I had not had one for three months, and was beginning to look like the caricature of a 30s southern senator -- in so many ways.  A white linen suit appeared to be in my future.  But I do not have a barber in Melaque.

I had seen a traditional barber pole across the street from a friend's business.  So, I popped in.  We spent a bit of time discussing the usual pleasantries: the weather, his shop, the photograph of his mother.

For a barber, he had an odd presentation.  I have a general rule not to sit in the chair of any barber who has a haircut worse than anything I want to leave with.  But I decided to stay.  It was a good day.

He cut and cut and cut -- as I watched the pile of blond locks pile up at my feet.  A sight I have not seen since my first day in basic training.

But the haircut was fine -- in a Picture Day in the Third grade sort of way.  And thorough.  Not only did he trim my neck, he took particular care in grooming my ears and eyebrows.  Metrosexual in Melaque.  Who could have guessed.

Freshly shorn and the sun still high in the sky, I decided to put everything on red and spin the wheel. 

So, I did.  Rather, I spun the four wheels on my Escape and headed off to Manzanillo to take care of sending and picking up some mail, to do a bit of grocery shopping, and to see a movie.  I was really tempting the Do One Thing Rule.

The mail was a cinch.  I dropped off my pieces and picked up The Economist.

The groceries I needed were going to be a bigger challenge -- so I thought.  I wanted some Feta, lemons, and specialty meats.  I decided to try Walmart -- and they were all there.  Because they needed to be cooled on the trip north, I decided to return after scouting when my movie was going to play.

This was the tricky part.  Manzanillo has a 9-screen cinema.  The blockbuster movies have at least one screen with the films in English.  But, for obvious reasons, the showings are limited.

I wanted to see the latest Harry Potter movie.  It certainly met the blockbuster criteria.  I asked the ticket clerk when it would show in English -- considering the possibility of spending the night in town.  3:10 she said.  It was 3 then.  I bought my ticket, wandered down the hall to the large air-conditioned theater -- and was the only viewer.  I almost felt like an executive at Warner Brothers.

After the movie, I drove across the street and bought my exotic fare.  And drove into my driveway just as the sun was setting over the bay.  A perfect end to a blessed day.

That was five things.  Not just tried.  But accomplished.

Who knows why these things happen?  I suspect a wide measure of grace came my way.  And I do not need to know the reason why.  Only that it occurred.  And it was not my doing.

Too many record holders try to relive their accomplishments.  Not me.  I am hanging up my proverbial gloves and marking the calendar.

This is the day I bettered Jack Sparrow.


Jonna said...

I'm impressed! You've broken my all time record and that was 3 things in Playa del Carmen on the quincena, although one of them was getting new plates for my truck which really should count double. You aced it though, a momentous feat!

Mic said...

What an amazing "Cotton Tale" :-) I too have of late adopted the do-one-thing-a-day attitude. Makes me feel so much more fortunate when I can overdo it....instead of not completing a list.....rather like getting a bonus.

You did really well this day grasshopper!

Anonymous said...

How about "Cotton Picken points" or news as your new name? Pat in Mn.

Islagringo said...

You are a brave soul! After the Bank success, I would have called it quits for the day. BTW, it would be safer to sit in the chair of the barber with the bad haircut than the one next to it. Who do you think cut his hair!

Tom and Debi said...

We too recently opened up a bank account - well sort of! That was about 3 weeks ago. Our cards still haven't arrived and the other day the bank officer was at our door - we had to resign all the papers because Mexico City didn't think they looked the same. I can't sign my signature the same way exactly twice in a row, much less 17. Well all papers have been signed again, we are told the cards will be here in 10 business days - 2 days down, and counting!

Mic said...

I like "Cotton Pickin' News" also.

Anonymous said...

I suggest "Cotton Tales". I look forward to your tales every day.

Tancho said...

Well you have set a benchmark...that no longer ever needs to be achieved again!
You wore me out just reading about it, I need to sit down and take a break now.

Leslie Limon said...

Very impressive day!

I laughed out loud when I read "Metrosexual in Melaque". Now that's a great blog title! :)

As for my take on the title change of your blog, I like the current title. BUT if you do change it, I really like Cotton Tales! :)

Steve Cotton said...

Jonna -- And I rested on my laurels the rest of the week. No sense to tempt fate.

Mic -- I am learning.

Pat -- It is a thought.

Islagringo -- You have the test correct. He had someone else cut his hair.

Debi -- And those were the tales I had heard. I was incredibly fortunate.

Mic -- I am still thinking.

Anonymous -- That title is carrying a lot of weight. But it also carries "Tales" within it.

Tancho -- Thus my need to rest for a week.

Leslie -- "Metrosexual in Melaque" would have its own issues.