Aug 14, 2015

The Hardware Store

Been falling behind a little bit here. Partly because so much has been happening (trip to the botanical gardens, overnight in the zona colonial etc) and partly because of fights over iPad time. Nevertheless, I want to try to relate our experience at the hardware store the other day. So here goes:

One day not too long ago (3 days to be exact) tanya, Carmen, luli, and I went to the hardware store to buy the materials we needed to build the garden for Doña Chucha. Tanya put me in charge of getting the wood needed for the frames for the plants so I headed over to the lumber section to find two by fours. I noticed that they had lengths of 10 and 16 feet so I figured for simplicity sake that we could use one of each for each frame and just cut them in half. Here are some tidbits of how I was able to realize this plan:
Getting the wood: So I told the worker that I needed three each of the 10 feet and 16 feet boards. The guy looks at me, looks way up to the top of the pile of 2 x 4s -- looks back at me, points up to the 16 foot boards. I thought to myself , "Yes, I see that the 16 foot boards are way up near the ceiling and yet I still need them." Rather than share that thought I just shrugged my shoulders and pointed to the boards ... Fifteen minutes later they found someone to climb up and get the boards. Here is a recap of what ensued...

Measuring the wood: 
I explained to the guy that I needed the boards cut in half (after fumbling around for the correct wording for a while until I learned from the guy that cut in half is "mitad mitad"). So he takes out his measuring tape and begins to measure the 16 foot board. The problem was that his measuring tape wasn't long enough so he just put it out as long as it would go (leaving a couple of inches leftover) and divided the measurement in half (The mathematician in me was screaming for him to attend to precision). 
          Josh: You can't just divide the tape measure in half because it doesn't reach the end of the 
           Guy:  But the tape measure ends here ( pointing to the end of the tape -- a good two inches
                    from the end of the board)
            Josh:  But the board doesn't.
           Guy:    Oh.
He proceeded to just estimate the middle, which turned out to be not very close to the middle at all. Don't I remember something about measuring twice, cutting once? It turned out that that was the only board he cut because ...

Cutting the wood:
The guy cutting the wood didn't actually work for the hardware store. He was just a customer who happened to be in the store and offered to help. When he started cutting the wood tanya offered him 50 pesos (about a dollar) for his help. He said he wanted 500 pesos. And then everyone started arguing. At the end of it all he just walked off and we ended up cutting the wood ourself at Doña Chucha. Honestly, I really don't know how that happened. Somehow a saw turned up -- a new saw at that -- and we were able to get the job done. Really that's how things seem to work here. There's confusion and lots of people arguing about the plan to get done whatever it is you're trying to get done and then changing the plan at the last minute and then somehow it all works out in the end. It never ceases to amaze me every time this happens and I don't really work this way. At least I didn't used to work this way until my recent conversion to dominicanism.

Paying for the wood:
So I get the bill and am told to go over to the cashier to pay. I head in the direction that I was pointed to but I see no one there. Then this disembodied arm reaches through a small window in a pane of tinted glass and I hear a voice asking for the bill. I then looked (I know I'm switching tenses here but I don't care to go back and fix it and suddenly it seemed that the past tense would be better) through the tiny window and I saw a real person attached to the arm; a real cold person since she was sitting in a tiny air-conditioned office.

Delivering the wood:
So once we got all this settled we loaded the wood, hardware and a hammer (though it turned out that a rock was just as useful) onto a horse drawn cart and sent it off to the school to await our arrival. Nothing too interesting here I guess. I just wanted to bring up the fact that a lot of business like this is still completed with horse drawn carts here.

So, that was our adventure at the hardware store. Real shame that we didn't have any camera with us to record all of the action, especially watching Carmen ride off with our wood.