Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Scowling Parking Lot Attendant

She is a scowling, short haired and overweight woman and she runs the parking lot on 58 street downtown, next to a hotel painted egg-yellow with a tourism van almost always parked out front.

Normally, I use the parking lot across the street, which charges double – a whopping 14 pesos an hour – what she does, but on this occasion the lot is closed for the holidays and necessity obliges me to use hers.

I park my car, and carry a large heavy box to the window/door entrance to her dark cave, where from whence she emerges with the usual bad humor I have come to expect from this sallow-faced human to glare at me. Previous attempts at light-hearted banter have been met with a cold expressionless stare, somewhat akin to that of a shark; this is why I prefer not to use this parking lot.

Numero de placa” is her barked greeting as I attempt to balance the box on a small counter and free up one of my hands. Just to bother her, I answer “buenos dias” in as cheery a voice as I can muster with that dark cloud of misery masquerading as a person in front of me. Her response is unreceptive to any attempts at civility. “Numero de placa” she repeats. I decide to keep it simple. “42-26” I reply, using the accepted method of skipping the letters on my license plate and using only the last four numbers.

As she writes this vital information on the parking ticket and hands me my stub, she again feels the need to communicate. “Estacionaste bien?” escapes her throat with a growl.

Did I park correctly? What a ridiculous question, I think to myself. “No” I answer. “estacioné mal” She is not amused and thinks, perhaps, that this smart ass gringo is serious. “Hay que estacionarse bien” she informs me – you have to park correctly.  Um, OK.

I take my parking ticket after assuring her that I did indeed park my car correctly, took my ticket stub and, reclaiming the box I had partially set on her filthy counter/desk, left to go about my business.

Her face an angry mask, she retreated to the darkness of her cave and awaited her next “customer”.

In the Bank this Morning

A quick stop at the local HSBC to make a withdrawal saw me in the lineup for a moment and then my turn was up. At the next teller window, a small obviously Yucatecan man – a diligenciero complete with a motorcycle helmet on and one pant leg tucked into his sock – was waiting for his cheques to be cashed.

A flurry of movement caught my eye and I turned to see several armed men from the security company that moves cash around, come in and take their positions. They deposited several large clear bags with several hundreds of thousands of pesos in them near the security door and asked one of the tellers if the encargado de la boveda – the vault supervisor – was there. “Ahi viene” was her laconic reply as she turned back to her helmeted client.

A few moments passed and nothing. The security men were getting restless and asked again for the supervisor to come and open the door. The teller got up, dialed a number, spoke briefly into the telephone and when she hung up, reassured them that he was almost there. “We can only stay 5 minutes” said the security man.

One of the other men, carrying what looked like a shotgun ad glancing continuously from side to side, asked the helmeted man to remove his helmet.

“Why?” he answered indignantly. “Do I look like I’m hot?”

“Bank security rules” replied the guard “no hats, caps or sunglasses”

“What if there’s shooting?” continued HelmetMan. “Wouldn’t I be safer with the helmet on?”

I noticed that no one was talking at this point and the other tellers were glancing up from their counting and stamping to observe the exchange.

“You need to take off the helmet”. Again, the security man.

“What are you? The owners of the bank now?” HelmetMan countered.

I could already envision a nervous security man accidentally getting riled up and squeezing the trigger on one of those guns and me catching a stray bullet. I wished my teller would move a little faster.

The security man, seeing he was getting no where with the uppity little Yucatecan who was proving to the world how defiantly he could stand up to 3 large men with guns, asked the bank manager to ask his client to remove his helmet. This seemed to work and HelmetMan took off his helmet not before remarking about the mafiosos with their guns and that they think they’re all that.

I finally got my money and left, wondering at the ridiculousness of some people and their insistence on trying to irritate others.