Friday, January 07, 2022

paying the piper -- at a discount

I look forward to each new year.

Not because it is an opportunity to make resolutions I will break faster than Benjamin Franklin broke his "13 virtues." I  can fall short of my own expectations (let alone the expectations others have of me) without the artifice of New Year's Day.

What I look forward to when December blows off the calendar like some grade b movie is the opportunity to feel like a I am real part of my neighborhood. My home town. My state. My new country.

January is the month when I get to pull out my wallet to pay tribute to the government that provides services. Often minimal, but so are the payments.

The list is always the same.

  1. Pay for my water, sewer, and garbage for the full year.
  2. Renew my postal box rental
  3. Renew my annual car registration
  4. Pay my property taxes for the house with no name
  5. Pay the bank for another year of doing absolutely nothing on my trust deed

One of the challenges this year is trying to find breaks between my walking regime to perform my civic duty. The first two items were not a problem because I pay the first at city hall in Barra de Navidad and the second at the post office in San Patricio Melaque. Both are on my usual walk routes

So, off I set first thing this morning.

Barra's city hall sits on the town square in the central part of town. Or, at least, it once did. That is it at the top. Looking as if Frosty the Snowman is our new mayor.

When I started to climb the narrow stairs to the offices, I discovered the grill was padlocked. There was a sign indicating the office was closed. Underneath, it appeared as if someone had kindly provided directions to the new office. But someone just as unkindly had ripped off the bottom of the notice leaving me as uninformed as an American Airlines passenger.

One of the neighboring business owners took pity on me and directed me to the new office. I immediately indulged in a stereotype that I would never find the place.

But I did. It was exactly where she said it would be. On the corner of Av. Manzanillo and Calle Michoacan. For those of you who have not yet paid for your utilities, you will now know where you can leave your pesos.

And leaving pesos at city hall is always a simple process. I handed the clerk my bill from last year, and within seconds she had totaled the amount due.

Because I paid early, I got a small discount. About enough to buy three bottles of Coke.

But the discount only seems small because the amount due was small. For a year's worth of garbage (with almost daily pickup), water, and sewer, I left behind $1,915.63 (Mx) -- about $94 (US). Let me repeat one thing. That is for a full year of service. I am always astounded at what I get for such a paltry amount.

Mexico is currently suffering from its worst bout of consumer-price inflation in over 20 years. So, I have been anticipating price increases in my annual payments. But my water bill increased only by 4%.

Having successfully paid my local utilities, I hot-footed it over to the Post Office in in San Patricio Melaque. There is no discount for early payment for my postal box. The price is always the same. $300 (Mx). $14.72 (US).

Payment for the box is due on 1 January. As much as I like to say that Mexico has culturally reset a lot of my expectations, my American genes are hardwired to make timely payments. (We will not even deal with my Canadian genes that want to pay everything early.)

With the Post Office, I should know better. Like all post offices around the world, it has its own procedures. The clerks need to complete their paperwork before I can make my payment. And the documents had not yet been drafted.

That was fine, I needed to mail some birthday cards, so, the trip was not wasted. Tuesday, they promised, would be the day to return.

Last year, for the first time, I was required to bring a copy of my most-recent utility bill and something else to make my payment. I forgot to ask what I needed on Tuesday. I guess I will find out.

And Tuesday will be the last day I can play Citizen Steve for awhile. On Wednesday, I will start a series of flights that will eventually deliver me to the tropical shores of San Juan. And, if omicron does not go entirely crazy, I will then board a cruise through the Caribbean. When I return, I will drive to our county seat and take care of the last three items on my community do-good list.

One change was a little bittersweet this year. In the past, my receipt for water, sewer, and garbage was typed up on a typewriter.

It is still in the city hall office, but it has been retired. I always think that after Clark Kent used a typewriter at The Daily Planet, it would end up looking like this one.

As a fellow retiree, i can feel its well-deserved respite.      

No comments: