Saturday, June 14, 2008

Odd day. I should have known. Friday the 13th...


Every week I make goals to be accomplished in those 7 days. Today's list was pretty simple:
-buy granola ingredients
-buy fresh fruit and vegetables
-go to the Oi! (cellphone provider) store and figure out my new phone
-cancel our Vivo (other cellphone provider) service
-do homework for my classes
-meet with group about final project
-go to class

It's pretty straightforward. But that doesn't mean it goes smoothly.

Part One:

I am trying to save money, so to get to the mall this morning, I took a combi. They only cost R$1.50 instead of $2.10. It adds up. Plus, it's faster. There are, however, drawbacks. The driver of my combi didn't find it necessary to stay in the driver's seat the whole time, shifting over while driving, trying to adjust the passenger's side mirror. The passenger in the second seat, drunk or crazy at 11:30 in the morning, insulted pedestrians and other motorists as he hung his hairy arm out the window to keep the door closed. I think a man with a foot-long Gandalf beard gave him the finger. We were almost to the mall when I looked over my shoulder to see a motorcyclist who appeared to be darting in between lanes veer straight into the bumper of the car behind us.

Bang! Bang! Bump! Parts were flying, heads were turning. The first bang was the impact, the second his bike crashing and the third? His helmeted head hitting our bumper.

Thank goodness he was wearing a helmet. And also that he stood up immediately. Not hurt...anyway, that was kind of the extent of the scene. Since we weren't actually involved in the accident, as soon as it was clear that no one was going to flee or die, we moved on.

Part Two:

I detest interacting with communications providers. Case in point: calling the Vivo operator to finalize the cancelling of our contract, I'm not asked for any identifying information but the girl chews me out for not answering their phone calls when I was at work, because they can't cancel the line unless I pick up the phone when they call me. (So call at a more convenient time, right?) She tells me that the last operator gave me the wrong facts. I don't get to keep my cellphone number. Grrr. I am on hold for more than 25 minutes. And since the whole operation takes at least 5 days, my phone is only PARTIALLY cancelled. So I can't make calls. And only some people are able to call me. But I have to carry the phone around with me so that when they do decide to call, I can answer. This makes me go into orc-speech: Urgh. Gah. Mrgtswa. Incompetents.

But I have planned for this, and already have a new phone. I go to the Oi! store to find out what the number of my new phone is, and also to buy credits, as they won't let me get a phone plan. Longer story. Oi! is known as kind of the leader in pushing for fewer penalties, easier switching between operators, the people's company. You need to know this to understand the following dialogue:

Him -(orange-shirted employee, ambling towards me after just telling some other couple that they needed to buy their Oi! chip at a department store) Can I help you?

Me - Yes! I bought this phone, but they tell me that I can't get a "conta" because I don't have a Brazilian ID number, just the protocol that says it is in process. Is that right?

-Uh, yeah. No card, no plan.

-Okay. Well then, I want to find out what the number is on this phone and make it a rechargeable cellphone.

-(He looks at me like I'm an idiot) You'll have to pay a fine.

-(I look at him like he's an idiot. There are only fines associated with breaking contracts. Oi! is all about NO FINES.) A fine? But I just bought the phone. I'm not even a customer yet!

-Huh. Yeah, well, let me see it. Where'd you buy it? What kind is it?

-It's "desbloqueado." With an Oi! chip.

-A chip? Where's the chip?

-IN the phone already.

(He turns the phone over, tries to remove the battery, is unsuccessful, and puts the cover back on.) So yeah...

-I want to find out what the number is...I've never done this before.

-Okay. Well, you have to give me your (Brazilian) social security number.
(I hand him my blue card and he takes the phone, dials a random number, and types a little on the keypad.) Here you go. Now you're signed up. It'll take 24 hours for it to go through.

-So what's my number?

-Oh, I don't know. You'll have to call another number in a day or so to find out.
(Does he tell me what this mystery number is? Of course not.)

-Okay. Well, I can put credit on it right now, correct?


-(Pause...pause...pause...) And can I buy it here?

-No. Go to a lottery house.

Confused, I staggered out. Oi! doesn't even sell phones anymore. ALL THEY DO IS SELL CELLPHONE SERVICE. But I can't buy THEIR RECHARGE CARDS in their OWN STORE? I come in trying to give them money, and they send me somewhere else? I should have known when I saw him talking to that couple in front of was so obvious. He was an impostor salesman, working for the competition, who stole a shirt and was posing as an employee. There is no other logical explanation. I'm half-tempted to return tomorrow (because I still don't have credit on my phone) just to see if he'll be there. Maybe it was because it was Friday the 13th. Because my bad luck didn't end there...

I currently own two cellphones, neither of which makes calls. Or receives them, being that one phone number is being disconnected and no one knows the number of the other. Nice.

Part Three:

My school, once a bastion of high class and cleanliness, has now digressed to the level of a college town bar bathroom. People throw trash around, the ladies' room is filthy. (Are they trying to pee standing up? Girls, it doesn't work so well, really. Trust me.) So we were lamenting this fact. We can't even come early to class because the classrooms have to be locked when not in use because the undergrad students are trashing everything. Ick. Get rid of the rugrats. Send them back home until they learn how to use a trashcan. But to top it off, not one, not ONE of the computer labs was available for use today, even though there was no one using them when I arrived. An unpleasant man told me that they were all being used for classes and that we couldn't use the computers. I think I gave the impression that I called him crazy...but it was really leveled at the school. Invisible classes with invisible students? No computers available at a place that advertises the level of technology available to its students? We're not paying top-of-the-food-chain prices to get this kind of service. I'm going to make some very polished and polite complaints next week.

I'm not superstitious. But aside from my food happinesses of the day, which were fresh strawberries in yogurt and granola, a slow-sipped café com leite, and the remains of a heart-attack-in-a-paper-pan (frozen lasagnha)...well, aside from those, I'd say this wasn't the best part of the week.

But tomorrow there will be granola. I can't think of a better way to start off a new week. Granola, Chris Heuertz's new book and some quiet time with God in the morning...yum. Saturday night church? Yummier. Maybe having a cellphone that works? The whipped cream on top. With cherries and sliced almonds.

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