Into every life a little rain must fall. When you’ve got a hot first date and you’re all dressed up, you’ll have a flat tire and will get yourself a little messy changing it. When you see something you’ve wanted on sale, you’ll find between your cash and your credit card balance you’re still too short and the sale ends tomorrow. When you’ve planned a family picnic during a pleasant warm spell, it will storm on that day and that day only. Such is life.
Once in a while, you’ll run into a situation where incompetence leads to frustration and perhaps loss of something you cherish or a delay in obtaining a service you want or need. Once in a while. But it’s different here.
Case Study #1, The Tearing Backpack Strap: In El Salvador, the backpack is as prevalent and necessary as the smart phone is to Americans. My backpack was bought in an Army-Navy store in Canoga Park, CA and I’ve used it for all my trips to Central America. It’s become an important tool in carrying groceries home from Santa Ana or Chalchuapa on the bus. It’s strong, durable, and has lasted me over a decade. But the strap has been wearing and was half torn. The straps’ outer cloth covering was also wearing. I have earlier relayed the odyssey from tailor to tailor in Chalchuapa to the booth of Don Ramón the cobbler and his assistant, my young brother César.
For almost two weeks the backpack, known as a mochila in Spanish, languished on a shelf while the two men worked on a backlog of shoes needing repair. Being the sport that I am, I placed the need for shoes over my need for my mochila and waited patiently until yesterday. I determined to collect my backpack finished or not.
Margarita and I passed the booth on the way to the super market and lo and behold it was done. I saw reinforcing strips of some stiff material sewn to the straps and the straps were sewn anew to the pack. It cost me $1.50. Oh, joy of the Christmas season. Santa had his pack.
We went to the market and I carried a gallon each of milk and water, a container of orange juice, and some other heavy items. Margarita assisted me in getting the load on the donkey’s back. Something was amiss. It felt very uncomfortable on one side. I attributed this discomfort to the new material on the now less flexible straps, but Margarita said one was twisted. She manipulated it and said it was OK, but now the smaller adjusting strap was on the inside. I told her something was wrong. She insisted it was fine. I took the pack off and saw that the formerly torn strap was sewn backwards.
Today we took it back. Don Ramón wasn´t there. César was there with another young man. I asked, “With two options for sewing the strap on, why did Don Ramón choose the wrong one?” César, being a man of honor confessed that he´d done the sewing. We left the mochila in his capable hands to remove the stitching and sew the strap on correctly.
Case Study #2, Online Banking in El Salvador: I’m a 21st century kind of guy and I’m doing my best to bring my hillbilly family up to date. Our bank has eBanca 7/24 online banking services just like Bank of America…so says it’s web page. So a couple of weeks ago we took our two passbooks and our national ID’s to the bank to sign up. A lot of paper work as usual, but the girl registered both our accounts.
When we got home, I had two emails from the bank instructing me on how to see my account. They gave me a temporary password to go with my user name. I used it, changed it to my regular bank password, and finally looked at my account and its movement.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the same for Margarita’s because she didn’t have an email address. So, I set one up for her. We had to go back to the local bank to let the girl know it was done but we hadn’t received the same messages from the main office so I could open the account. She gave me a phone number to call. I knew that was an alternative to contacting them via the Internet. I had written three messages to bank headquarters and received no replies.
We called the number and the man said the girl had entered .mlsn rather than .msn and the girl would have to correct it. That meant another trip to the bank. The girl found the mistake and had to redo the paper work. But when we got home this time, we found the messages that allowed us to open the account for viewing. I think we spent more on micro bus fare going back and forth to Chalchuapa than there is in the account.
The point being that Murphy’s Law should be Martínez’ Law. “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.” is perhaps a bit too weak. “If anything is virtually unlikely to go wrong, we’ll make sure it does by hook or by crook and we’ll all smile about it.”