As part of our job description, Gaye (principally) and I (in a support role) are responsible for starting and discontinuing water and electric service to the apartments we have on Puerto Rico. It has been a bit frustrating.
Last Friday I went with my young elder companion to find the office where we could get accounts turned on or off as we move into new apartments. The best way for the church is to have the landlord take responsibility for the water and electricity and to include those expenses in the rent. They don’t like to do that here, though, so we are finding it necessary to set up accounts in the name of the church, using the protocol that the church legal team has set up. Anyway, we finally found the offices, after hunting around for an hour. We found some parking, went inside, my companion tried to explain in his best Spanish what we wanted to do, and we were told to go to another office just up the street. By the time we got there it was 3:35 and the dude at the door told us that they close at 3:30. Come back another day. Okay.
Gaye and I tried to make it back to the place, leaving our apartment at about 1030 to drive into town. The traffic was terrible and slow and heavy, but we made it. We tried to find parking, stopping in a Walgreen store’s mostly empty lot, but a dude from inside came out speaking Spanish to tell us that we could not park there, no matter how empty the lot is or how short the visit would be. We should park at the commercial lot very nearby. They would give us a ticket that we could validate at the water office across the street. Okay. But the parking lot was not open that day. No problem. Another employee of Walgreens came out and showed us how to park in the roadway leading into the parking lot. Fine.
We dodged our way across the street to the office, found the elevator to the third floor, absolutely the slowest elevator in the world, and moved down the hall to the office. It was empty. Two guys were working on a window and the open door to the office showed that there was some sort of remodeling job going on and there were no employees anywhere. One of the guys at the window told us in his broken English that we would need to come back on Monday.
We decided to go a little earlier, so after fighting the traffic again we parked at the commercial lot, now open, and dodged our way across the street again, where we met the same non-English speaking receptionist guy we had met before, who gave us a number and told us to sit down. There were several chairs that faced a big display with numbers. Our number was 429. The number on the board was 412. In two hours the board showed 417. We decided to leave and come back at the beginning of another day.
Next day we were up early, on the road by 0715 into very heavy traffic with 10 million people going to work. We went directly to the office, getting there at about 0810. The same guy gave us a number and pointed to another desk in the room, hollering something to the nice lady sitting there. She nodded at us to come to her position. She was actually very helpful, even though her English was not polished. Not complaining, mind you, because any attempt at English is better than my level of understanding Spanish. She listened to our purpose and said she would try to help us because we are new to Puerto Rico, we do not speak Spanish, and I was a “man of God” which she deduced from our name tags. She explained that we were at the wrong office, that the place we should really be is an office not from the mission office. We smiled, thanked her for her kindness, and drove back to the office, in heavy traffic.
We could not find the address she gave us so we tried Google Earth. That didn’t work, either. When we went to our music lesson with Brother Berrios we told him what we wanted to do. After the lesson he drove to the place we were looking for, with us following closely behind in our own vehicle. Of course it was late at night by then, so we would attempt to go there the next day. That was yesterday.
Today we drove over there on our way to the office. Parking was non-existent for a while, but finally a nice older gentleman indicated to us that he would be leaving and we could take his parking spot. Great. We parked and went into the mall where the water and electric offices are located. We asked a security guard, who did not speak much English, where the water and electricity offices were. He indicated that we needed to go along the hall in the mall to where we came to the intersection and then turn left, indicating with his arm pointing to our right. Left, right, whatever. We found the stairs up to the water office. In only about an hour we were finished. The little gentleman who was at the desk where the number told us to go, they like that system down here, did not speak English, but he called another guy over and we got the water problem solved. Gaye stayed to finish there while I went to the electric office to get in line.
Gaye came over to that office in a few minutes. I was standing in a line that looked like the other lines we had to get into to get a number that would tell us which line we would eventually be called to. Gaye said it looked like I was in the wrong line, asked the ubiquitous guard where we should go, and he gave her a number and told her to sit on the chairs to await our turn. He told her that because we are old people we would be in the priority line.
An hour later we were called to one of the windows to present our request to have the electricity turned on in the apartment we have just rented for our newly-arrived nurse. The older gentleman behind the glass window that had a little slit under it through which we were supposed to communicate with the public servant on the other side, that guy didn’t speak English. We sat there for 10 minutes and an older lady came over to help us. We showed her the contract, signed by the owner of the condo that we were renting, explained that we wanted to get the electricity turned on (he had already called in to have it shut off because it was in his name and he wanted it put in our name), and that the name we wanted to use was the Presiding Bishop of the church, which is how the legal department wants it done. She explained that it could not be in the name of a corporation because it is not a commercial building, it is residential. Okay, whatever. Since he did not want it in his name, we would put it in the name of the nurse. However, since her name was not on the contract, which was in the name of the PBO as the legal department told us to do it, we would not be able to put it into her name. The owner would have to write a statement authorizing her to turn on the electricity to the apartment. We explained that the church will be paying the bill, so it should not matter whose name it is in. She said they don’t care who is paying the bill, they only care that they have the name of the person living in the apartment! A little more discussion, she left and returned 15 minutes later. We did not get it done. We will find a local who can go with us to the office to get the mess straightened out. This has been going on for years. Somebody needs to solve this problem instead of kicking the can on down the road. These people say they want to be a State in the USA. Over my dead body!
The nurse took my blood pressure, at my request. It is 140/90. ARRRGGGGGHHH!