Monday, August 11, 2008

Enter Mercedes, in pursuit of the almighty dollar

Things were hopping in the apartment earlier this evening (relatively speaking). Within a ten-minute period, I received both a phone call and a visitor. And to think I thought nobody knew where I had gone to ground.

The phone call was straightforward enough - a welcoming call from ByT, the agency which helped me locate the apartment, to see if everything was going OK. Five minutes later, a knock at the door. Who could it be?

At this point I should mention that my good friend Paddy ("MOB") B. has kindly pointed out what she perceives to be an incipient trend in my Latin American peregrinations. Personally, I think she may be succumbing to the all-too-human tendency to discern patterns where none exists. But who am I to say? Maybe she's on to something. The meme in question would be "poor communication with the 86-year old Latina".

I answered the door, to be greeted by an imperious señora of - oh about - 86 or so, in a wheelchair, being pushed by an obviously apologetic nurse-aide. Minor chit-chat on the threshold, during which the imperious Mercedes made it clear she had something to discuss with me, of sufficient magnitude to require her entry into my apartment. How could I refuse?

Moments later, we regroup around the dining-room table in my (sparsely, but adequately furnished) rented apartment. For which I have paid, a little over 24 hours earlier, the entire 7 weeks rent in advance (plus one month security deposit). Substantial moolah.

This matters not a whit to Mercedes, who has plans of her own. It turns out, see, that SHE owns a bigger, two-bedroom, apartment elsewhere in the building, which her sons (clearly she must have meant grandsons, as her sons would be in their sixties, by my estimation) have just refurbished (though not actually furnished), and she is willing to rent this much larger, completely unfurnished apartment to me, beginning at once, for a steal at a mere $1800 a month - here she smiles triumphantly, as if to seal the deal - "for as long as I desire, even until Christmas".

I can't really explain why it took 15 minutes (to the obvious excruciating embarrassment of the long-suffering nurse´s aide) to communicate to Mercedes that (i) while I was eternally grateful for her consideration (ii) I was in fact just one person, so that a second bedroom provided little extra attraction (iii) I had no furniture, so that an unfurnished apartment provided no attraction whatsoever and - sobretodo - (iv) I had paid for the apartment in which we now found ourselves, in full, through September 29th. Other than the obvious explanation that Mercedes´s listening powers were highly selective.

Eventually they left, and I was left to ponder yet another apparent failure in communication with the Spanish-speaking over-80´s set.

But I can't help thinking. Oh, Mercedes, was it my charming personality that provided the impetus for your ever-so-generous offer? Or is it just possible that you just viewed me as a potential conduit to the almighty dollar? I guess we shall never know with certainty.

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