Thursday, January 21, 2021

home is the hunter from the hill

Even silly adages have a reason to exist.

Take the one I mentioned yesterday. "Retirees in Mexico should attempt to complete only one task in a day." I suspect it was coined for days like today.

Of my five start-of-the-year tasks, I managed to close out only two. And it took a day to do each. Then there were three -- eerily recalling an Agatha Christy novel. Payments for my property taxes, my car registration, and my bank trust deed.

Because all three were payable in different offices of the county seat of Cihuatlán, I drove over early in the morning. I am glad I did.

My first stop was county hall to pay my property taxes. Despite all of the warnings I had received that all governmental offices were closed down during the governor's partial shutdown order, apparently no one in the building had heard of it. The place was in full operation with bureaucrats performing a reverse Rumpelstiltskin -- spinning gold into paper.

When I arrived, there were about twenty people in front of me. Even though we were all masked and had been offered sanitary gel at the door, canned sardines had more social distancing than we did. After an hour, there were still ten people ahead of me in line.

In the past, I have spent no more than fifteen minutes paying my property taxes. But that was not the case today.

Part of the problem was a regular flow of people who were admitted without waiting in line. The young man in front of me explained they were important people -- and made a hand sign that fully explained the queue-busting.

The most conspicuous was a middle-age woman who looked as if she had just stepped out of a telenova. Stiletto heels. Black and red dress. And enough makeup and bracelets to pass as a pharaoh. 

After her entry, it took me about forty-five minutes to be admitted to the office. Alexis Colby was still at one of the two clerk windows with a stack of files in front of her on the counter. 

But once I was at the counter, it took me less than five minutes to receive my bill and pay my taxes. About $116 (US) total. An increase of 50 cents -- not 50%, 50 cents, 50 pennies -- over last year's taxes. For my 4000 square foot house.

One day we should talk about the relationship between low property taxes and minimal public services. But not today.

Even though I had spent two hours paying my property taxes, there was still some time left in the day. I have never had long waits in paying my fees for the bank trust deed on my house. That deed is held by BBVA (formerly Bancomer), and there is a branch in Cihuatlán.

I was correct about the timing. The customer representative at the door took my temperature, offered me sanitary gel, looked at my documents, and directed me to the appropriate window where I paid the bank $522 (US) for the legal fiction that the bank, rather than Steve Cotton, owns my house. Even my property taxes are in the name of the bank. I was out of the bank in less than five minutes.

Feeling lucky, I decided to walk over to the office that renews my annual automobile registration. I had not planned on stopping for two reasons.

First, traditionally, it has the longest lines of any of my tasks, and it was nearing the office closure time. Second, I had been warned that I could pay my money, but the documents for my car would not be available for another two weeks. I would need to come back even if I did pay.

When I looked in at the waiting area, there were only five people in line. Since I was there, I decided to stay and pay.

But looks can be deceiving. In the past, the line always slows at one point when a customer has multiple vehicles to register. Today, it was two people in line in front of me. Their series of registration constipated the line for about a half-hour.

Just as I was getting ready to bail, the line broke free. Once I got to the clerk, I handed him my last year's receipt and the payment for this year -- about $34 (US) -- and was out the door in two minutes.

Well, I left out one important step. I started to walk away from the counter and turned back to confirm the tags would not be available for two weeks. He responded: "No. Three or four weeks." So, I will add an entry on my calendar for the end of February to pick up my tags.

All in all, it was a fine day. Though, I will admit, as much as I enjoy chatting in line, today's three-task day was a bit tiring and deserved a short siesta.

Once the end of February rolls around, my start-of-the-year tasks will be complete -- and I can wait for next January for the cycle to start all over. When my chores of residency will once again be validated.

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