Category Archives: Employment

El Tortillero

Before we went on our trip to visit my family, my sister-in-law T. asked if my son would help her out on weekends at her tortilleria. Saturdays and Sundays, she averages 8 buckets of masa (dough) each day. Some days, her pistoleras, the ladies who crank those hand-pressed tortillas out, arrive late or not at all. (The word pistoleras literally women wielding pistols or in this case prensas–tortilla presses.) Their tardiness or absence puts T into a bind since she has to fire up a comal and make tortillas herself instead of packing them up and receiving the money.  Because this has been happening regularly, my son said he’d be the money handler.

Since we’ve returned from our trip, he is now working 6 days a week at the tortilleria with T. Weekdays, he works 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for the lunch rush with Thursdays off. On the weekends, he’s there from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or so. 

He seems to be enjoying working with his aunt, and she with him, it appears. She has some pan dulce y leche (sweet bread and milk) ready for him every morning. He’s adjusted his schedule so that he is up early for some computer fun before heading to work, then naps in the afternoon. Plus, there’s a little trickle of income for his own use that sweetens the deal and a kilo of tortillas, a container of salsa and some beans every day for dinner.

I enjoy hearing about his day. Customer service always provides some interesting anecdotes. Plus the pistoleras themselves chatter away as they pat and flatten and flip the tortillas.

The other day, my son came home with another one of those strange health beliefs that abound here. This one was that you can’t drink coke and atole (corn drink) together because one is black and one is white. The colors apparently clash in your stomach and make you ill.

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who would want to drink coke and atole together. It sounds like a horrible combination and sure to upset your stomach no matter what color the mixture happens to be. I actually think this belief has more to do with the hot/cold indigenous categorizations. You wouldn’t ingest something cold and hot together. This is why water is often offered al tiempo (room-temperature) with meals or on hot days.

My son also brings us the goings-on from Moroleon. The tortilleria is the hub of gossip mongers. We learned about the sudden death of our neighbor, el plomero (the plumber) from my son. The guy had gotten into a fight, sustained injuries and didn’t go to the doctor. It seems there was some internal bleeding and he died as a result.

Not all the stories are so tragic. One day my son was dispatching the tortillas and a girl about his own age paid him too much money. Before he could give her change, she ran off flustered. All the pistoleras hooted at that! Remember, my good-looking son is a Lady Killer! Later the girl’s mom came back and picked up the change with the young lady in tow, red as a tomato.

It sounds like my son has just pulled up to the house with his bike. Time for me to find out what the latest news from town!

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Filed under Employment, Small Business in Mexico

Continuing with the Internet Crusade

So all of a sudden during a Tuesday morning class, neither internet was actually providing internet service. I had to put in an emergency absence form for the second half of the shift. The satellite internet hadn’t been working since late afternoon on the day before, so I had gone into the class knowing I didn’t have the backup. Then the Blue Communications internet just sputtered and died.

Unraveling this mess took more than a week. Beginning with the satellite internet, our regular monthly payment day is the 26th of the month. We normally pay it a day or so beforehand, but this month one thing after another kept us from actually paying it until the 26th. When we called to see why it wasn’t working after our payment, it seems that the contract had been signed on the 24th even though it hadn’t been installed until the 26th. Thus, the company decided we were delinquent in our payment on the 25th of this month and shut down service. Whatever. We were now current and on the 27th, we had satellite internet again.

Now for the Blue Communications internet story….

After trying to log in to the company site, we received an error message stating our SIM card was not functioning. This internet service uses a modem that uses something like cell phone signals to provide us internet way out in La Yacata. So since this was a SIM card issue, we took the modem to the office in Moroleon. We explained what the problem was and they started shaking their heads. We would need to call the technical service number for assistance. They couldn’t do a thing. The installer did plug it in at the office and verified that it wasn’t working correctly, but that was all. We asked whether they had another modem in the office in case the one we had couldn’t be fixed. I was assured that they did. I should have asked them to show it to me though.

Anyway, we went home with our modem and had my son call technical support. He was to be our representative in this matter for several reasons. One is my husband hasn’t a clue on internet/computer related gadgets. Secondly, though I do, I have difficulty understanding Spanish over the phone. So our teenage son took up the gauntlet.

Tuesday afternoon, he was on the phone over an hour doing troubleshooting. You know, move the modem here, press this button, now log in and tell me what it says. Nothing, ok, now reset this and reconnect that and tell me what is happening. Anyway, after all that, the tech confirmed that there was something wrong with the SIM card. He assured us that a report would be filed and that within 1-2 days, it would be resolved.

On Wednesday, the internet was still not working. So my son called again. He spoke to another tech person who said that no report had ever been filed on Tuesday. He assured us that the issue would be resolved in 1-2 days.

On Thursday, he called again. This time we instructed my son to say that it either gets fixed or we cancel the service. After being referred to a manager and then referred to that person’s manager, the cancelation request was finalized. I’d receive an email in 1-2 days to confirm that our contract had been canceled.

Meanwhile, on Friday we went to the office in Moroleon. We requested a new modem and a new contract. Now they didn’t have a modem for us. Huh! Go figure. If we would come back in the afternoon, they should get delivery by then. Meanwhile, they had a 5 MBPS modem that they could rent us. The owner had gone to the U.S. and didn’t want to let the contract lapse.

I told them that I wasn’t interested in that modem. Our modem had 10 MBPS and while it wasn’t consistent, when it worked, it worked well.

We returned that afternoon. Nope, no modem. Try back on Monday. On Saturday, the internet was working as well as it ever did. Good for a time, then dropping, sometimes coming back, sometimes not. So my weekend classes were not a bust after all. Plus, since the satellite internet was working again, I could do the ol’ switcheroo in the event one internet lost its signal.

On Monday, my husband went to check to see if the modem had arrived. The lady in the office gave him a hard time about canceling the previous service and trying to set up another one. I don’t understand why. We have no contract with Blue Communications. It’s set up on a month-to-month plan. The modem we bought outright. However since that particular modem was tied to that particular month-to-month service, in order to get a new modem, we had to cancel the old one.

Anyway, she told my husband to try the rental 5 MBPS modem out and see how that worked. So he brought it home and I used it to teach. It worked about as well as the other one. Only I still didn’t want to “rent” the modem. What happened when the owner decided to come back to Mexico? We’d be out of a modem.

My son called the support line again. He said that the person he spoke with this time apologized for the problems we’d been having as well as for her co-workers who didn’t seem to be able to figure out what they were supposed to do to file a report. Of course, no report of the internet outage had been filed for our account, nor any cancelation request sent through. As long as we paid our monthly fee tomorrow, the service would continue uninterrupted.

So we went back to the office in Moroleon to return the modem. We requested the deposit for the new modem and monthly contract back. Of course, they didn’t have the money.  The lady suggested that she could apply the balance to our monthly fees, which would pay us 3 months and change in advance. Well, it’s not what I had planned for that money, but I guess it would do. She gave me a piece of paper with words to that effect. 

Despite all of our precautions, the last day of our monthly plan, our internet service was cut off.  We learned an interesting tidbit. Once your account has been deactivated, you can not access the customer service line by entering your account number. It’s like blocked or doesn’t recognize it or something. So since we couldn’t get ahold of anyone by phone, we went back to the office in town. They said that our payment had been made and gave us a receipt. When I asked whether someone could call and find out what was wrong with our account, the service technician told me to send them an email insisting our service be fixed.

Umm, if I don’t have internet at home, how would I send an EMAIL which requires the INTERNET? Go to the Cybercafe and wait there for a response? So that was completely useless advice in my opinion.  Anyway, since the backup satellite internet was still chugging along, I had my son log on to the company website and chat with a representative. She told us that there had been no report made for service repair but there was a cancellation request. Válgame dios! (Oh my god!) She asked if we would like to reactivate our account and the next day we were back in business. Well, as much as we ever were with this internet provider.

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Filed under Economics, Employment, Teaching

Failing at your Own Business–Author

The end of January brought me my first 1099-MISC from Kindle Direct Publishing. Would you believe I made $12.91 in royalties from the sale of my books in 2018? Ok, well, that’s not a lot of moolah, but it’s a start, isn’t it? My goal is to double that income this year. Seems obtainable.

January itself was off to a rousing start. I had 107 downloads via Amazon. Unfortunately, they were all FREE downloads from my promotions. 117 pages were read via Kindle Unlimited. That netted me a total of $2.07 in royalties that I’ll get next month. Guess I can’t quit my day job just yet.

writing goingNo one ever said that being a writer was an easy road. Since I’ve decided not to be dismayed, I am continuing work on the 5 books I have planned for this year. I hope to have another ready for publication by the end of February, but with the internet being what it is, uploading the book to Amazon may be delayed a bit.

Additionally, I went ahead and set up a new web site as an official author just in time for National Entrepreneurship Week (February 16-23). Very apropos since I am “setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit” with this venture.

I’ll still be blogging my wild and wacky adventures in Mexico here at Surviving Mexico, so never fear. The new blog will be going in a completely different direction.

content creative heading.jpgContent Creative will be devoted to writing, blogging, and reading. You can expect interviews with authors, book reviews and inspirational articles and how-to guides for bloggers, writers, and reviewers.

So should any of those topics tickle your fancy, you can find me in my new position as a freelance writer/reviewer at:

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Filed under Blogging, Book Reviews, Employment

Internet Saga

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If you remember, after quite a quest, we managed to get internet service at our house in La Yacata. The first month, it worked like a dream. Thus, my decision to move my office from The Little House in Sunflower Valley to La Yacata.

Then came the time to pay for the second month of service. We headed to OXXO, which seems like it just might make banks obsolete, to pay the bill. And the next day, our internet service tanked. Instead of getting upload/download speeds of between 8 to 10 Mbps, they hovered at .08 or less. Nothing would load.

We thought perhaps it was a one-day deal. Maybe there were some adjustments being made to the service. Maybe a glitch in the system. After all, the month before had gone without a hitch. Only, the bad stats continued and continued and continued. I canceled a week of classes.

We called the service support line. After all sorts of “troubleshooting” that we had already done, the service representative hung up on us. So the next day, we tried again. This time the service representative admitted that since we were officially outside the coverage area, there wasn’t really much he could do to help us.

So we went to the place where we had bought our modem and requested a service technician. We were told he’d be out around 4 pm to check things out. I canceled my classes again. At about 4:30, the service technician called and said he thought the problem was that our payment hadn’t been processed. I knew that was a bunch of hoo-ha since I had received an email confirmation of the payment. He said he’d look into it and call back. He didn’t bother to come out to La Yacata.

So if the service technician wasn’t interested in coming to us, we’d take the modem to them. The next day we boxed it up and went back to the office. Their solution was to wait for the service technician to come from Morelia and have him take the modem home with him. Moroleon is officially outside the coverage area. The fact that the internet works in certain areas is apparently a fluke that this office was capitalizing on. So in theory, connecting the modem in a coverage area would “reset” the internet and allow us again to have usable service.

It took two days for our modem to take its trip to Morelia and back. The result was that yes, for a while it did what it was supposed to do. And yet, there were sporadic outages and low service periods which unfortunately often coincided with my teaching hours.

Some research on the company shows that overall the internet service only rates 3 out of 5 stars and that even though they promise nation-wide coverage, that’s not necessarily the case. There had to be something better out there.

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Filed under Cultural Challenges, Economics, Employment, Small Business in Mexico, Teaching