Tuesday, July 10, 2018

not ready for prime time

I really should talk to someone about this obsessive disorder.

For some reason, I keep picking at the scab of our local OXXO store. You know the one. I have written about it twice (does that translate to hugs and kisses?; hugs and kisses). And that is just about the number limit of guest appearances on Mexpatriate. Well, unless you are a scorpion.

I had decided I had OXXOnerated myself of the topic. That is, until last week when the store opened. Some of you mentioned in your comments that you hoped Mexicans would support their local abarrotes instead of buying their beer and ice at OXXO.

Last Monday, the store had its grand opening. It was to be quite the event. Invitations (with discount coupons attached) were stuffed under front doors. Unfortunately, the invitation arrived under my door the day after the opening.

That was just as well because the store was not really ready for the event. The contractor had told me the date and time. When I showed up, the store was open, but the staff was busily gathering up the required paraphernalia of such sacred rites.

Balloons. Posters. Ear-piercing music blared from a speaker placed just right to blast the eardrums of anyone who had the temerity to join the celebration.

I went inside. And I was not alone.

The store was not packed. There were perhaps 15 of my neighbors looking at the merchandise.

My Telcel (cellular) bill had just arrived. So, I decided to take advantage of one of the best benefits of Mexican convenience stores. Financial services. For me, it is a place to pay my telephone, electric, and cellular bills. For my neighbors, it is cash transfer point. These stores help fill the gaps left by Mexican banks.

To be a good neighbor, I grabbed a bottle of mineral water, and got in line behind a young woman with two small children who were fascinated with all of the small sweets just at their eye level. Like mothers universal, she was haggard.

The clerk was not quite so focused. Or, maybe she was just frustrated. The customer wanted to purchase one item. Toilet paper. But the clerk was having trouble. When confronted with a credit card, more problems ensued.

I stood there for just under 10 minutes and decided my transaction could wait. (I should note I have seen similar problems at one of the other OXXO stores in Barra de Navidad.) By then, there were about six more people in line. I returned my bottle to the cooler and left.

Since then, I have noticed a steady stream of customers at the store. Lots of young mothers. But the main demographic seems to be young Mexican men on motor bikes. The front of the store looks as if it could be in Saigon in 1971.

I was positive I knew what that last group was buying. They tend to be a beer crowd. But, when I went inside, I discovered the beer coolers were locked. 

The only unlocked alcohol cooler had a sign asking customers not to open the door.

It turns out there is a licensing problem. If I understood my informant correctly, it will be another month before the matter is worked out. Maybe.

For a company that bases its revenue on the sale of Corona and Victoria, that seems to have been an odd detail for OXXO to overlook in choosing an opening date. Or, maybe other sales will meet the company's capital recapture scheme. Who knows?

What I do know is that the store was not quite ready to open. A week later, the clerks are far more confident in manning their stations -- even if they are OXXO-slow. As yet, my attempts to build a personal relationship (similar to what I have with the owner of our local grocery and with the Kiosko staff in Barra de Navidad) have been rebuffed. But everything takes time.

Because of my continued need to be close to a bathroom, I have been taking my exercise on the upper terraza of my house. 100 laps gives me 10 miles.

A few nights ago, I noticed a bright light shining through one of the architectural features where there had once only been darkness. It was the OXXO sign. Doing its best imitation of John Winthrop's shining city upon a hill.

It was startling when I first saw it. Now it is just part of the background of my little village rolling into the twenty-first century.

I suspect in another week or two, I will not even notice the home of the moto cowboys.

No comments: