Not So Fast!

We are both really wiped out these days – the ongoing situation with my mother just wears on us both and there isn’t anything more we can do for her, but it is still so sad to know that she is ever-so-slowly slipping away from us. The doctor goes to visit her twice a week and she’s not in any pain, so we are just sort of stuck, and so is she. Perfectly awful.

Meanwhile “la vida” sort of does go on – we went to Costco today to pick up some things for our house, my mother’s house, and for various and sundry friends. I am on the trail of a new cell phone I in no way need, but nonetheless covet, and having done all the research and read all the reviews I am now ready to have the new one plunked into my eager hands. I of course know that before that can happen I must cross Carlos Slim’s (the gazillionaire owner of Telcel, the cell phone company) palm with silver – but I suspected it wouldn’t be all that easy to get this done. And yet undaunted, we went all the way in to Guadalajara thinking that maybe if we actually showed up at Telcel’s “Centro de Atencion a Clientes” (client service center) that we would get at least one step closer to actually being able to purchase the new phone.

Back in the States, you go into the cell phone store, Verizon or whatever it is, point at the phone you want, they give you a paper to sign, you walk out with the phone and its plug and cables in a pretty little bag and a new zillion-year contract which you probably don’t fully understand. But you at least have your new toy. But we know, of course, from past experience, that things that would be completely simple in the States are quite a bit more complicated a la Mexicana. “You want to actually pay us and walk out with a new phone? NOT SO FAST!” “But we want to make Carlos Slim even RICHER!!” Maybe in a week or two, but not just yet.

First of all, there are several Telcel client service centers scattered around the city, but could you CALL any of them to say “by any chance do you have this item in stock?” before you go traipsing all the way into town on a hot, smoggy day. No, you cannot. Nor can you even call Best Buy, which was my backup option if Telcel failed me, to see if maybe they had the model I wanted. You can only call a central number in Mexico City, and then THEY call the store for you and tell you someone will call you back with information about their inventory, which of course they never do, so you’re back where you started. Everyone will be more than happy to order it for you but it takes weeks to get there, if it ever does, and right now we aren’t in the mood to keep running into Guadalajara on wild goose chases.

Still, I remained (silly me!) optimistic that if we went to the client service center and actually forked over the cash I’d walk out of there with a new phone. No. Even though the current phone bill is paid, I still have to wait three or four more days before their glacial computer system finally recognizes that my bill is paid and permits me to purchase a new phone. Will we go back to Guadalajara – an hour’s drive – to deal with this after their computer has registered my payment in a week? Or will I try to deal with it, starting all over again, with a person at a Telcel distributor here in town? No matter how I slice it, the acquisition of this new phone will probably take a month before it’s actually done.  Now I’m thinking that I will take another tack and attempt this with one of the Telcel dealers here in town. Even though it’ll still take weeks, at least I can go in and harrass them and inquire about my order every few days without the hour’s drive into Guad. Stay tuned.

It never ceases to amaze us how when you actually want to purchase something – ready, willing and able – the bureaucracy rears its ugly head and the answer is NO, it just doesn’t/can’t/won’t work that way, Señora.  Oh well. At least Arnold and I had a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant in the  mall after we were rebuffed by Telcel and we got back home before the worst of the rush-hour traffic got started. I did manage to get a horrible headache from all of it though. Arnold says he thinks it’s just stress – my mother is dying, we’re scared to death that we’ll meet our maker in a gunfight or god knows what other horror show (though in fact it’s been pretty calm here, at least compared to other places in Mexico); our visas are in to the Immigration Department for renewal and there’s a big backlog and we might not be able to leave the country for our long-planned, and pre-paid (opera tickets and such) trip to New York in May. Stress? Surely he’s kidding!


  1. Jillian, you manage to make buying a phone into a gripping story! Brava. I am so sorry about your mother and what it must be like for you and Arnold during this time!

    1. Maybe I have too much time on my hands??? Yes, the situation with my mom is pretty awful, but we are doing the best we can – more than that we cannot do. Glad you enjoyed my Telcel Tale! It’s not over yet, so stand by….

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