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43# The school of idleness

Updated: May 8, 2021

Barra de la Cruz is a surfer’s paradise. The place is famous for its world-class wave: a right pointbreak that unrolls endlessly in perfect parallel lines. The village has no paved roads or cellular reception, and besides the loud frogs that sing after the rain, it is dead quiet. In Barra de la Cruz, if you are not a surfer, you become one.

In Barra, Marco and I surfed or rested. Life was quiet, simple, and repetitive. We relaxed for a few days but had to keep going due to the lack of reception. Plus, Salina Cruz was the closest city where we could order a new suspension base to replace the broken one. We left Barra early. Two hours later, we passed the hill overlooking the city, and started the long descent towards Salina Cruz.

The road was clogged with heavy trucks. Old engines coughed black clouds every time they moved, adding to the traffic ruckus. The sky was grey, people looked sketchy, and the heat was dry and sharp. The wind felt like that blast of air that comes out of a working oven. The city was an ugly mashup of asphalt, metal, and smoke. Salina Cruz’s fifty shades of grey.

Going from Barra to Salina Cruz was a slap for all our senses. Like jumping into a dub step rave after a silent meditation retreat. The good side was that there were more autopart shops and mechanics than trees. We had to deal with La Chichona’s supensions and get out of there.

The largest AutoZone did not have the part, nor did they care about finding it. Their attitude reminded me of the Moroccan administration officers. They are the most ingenious when it comes to avoiding work. “Not here, go there” is their motto. We left Autozone disappointed and dove into Salina Cruz’s heat, noise, and traffic. It was going to be a long day.

Owning a Mercedes Sprinter in Latin America is a pain in the ass. The second shop didn’t have the part. Same story again: “Not here, go there”, and off we went. The shops’ clerks made no efforts to help us; one even told me to buy the part in Germany. We moved from shop to shop, breathing in the smoke and feeling the sun roast our skin. I was losing my temper with every lazy clerk. Marco remained stoic.

The fifth shop was Salazar Suspensions; our last resort. As expected, the guys behind the counter were slow and unmotivated. I asked them about the part and without checking, they said they didn’t have it. There is a Moroccan saying that goes: “Start with NO and you’ll avoid headaches”. These guys embraced it.

I told them that I had driven 400km because they said on the phone that they could order the part. It wasn’t true but it worked. Seeing doubt in their face, I asked for the manager. He said they would check with other branches and call me when he had news. It was 11 am on hot, grey Friday.

Four hours later, still nothing. I didn’t want to spend the week end in that shithole so we returned to the shop. The guy was checking his phone behind the counter.

  • Hello sir, did you receive any news from the other branches?

  • I said I would call you

  • Yes, but you didn’t

  • I went for lunch

It doesn’t take four hour to make a fucking phone call! I wanted to hit him with the broken suspension base when Marco dragged me outside and calmed me down. It was then that I realized the similarities. These guys were as idle as the Moroccan administration officers. Something clicked, I walked back in.

  • Obviously you are a very busy man and have other priorities, I understand that. Can you give me the number of the other branch please? I’ll call them myself.

  • Don’t worry amigo, I’ll call them right now and tell you when I get some news.

  • Thank you. You see, I live in my van and without the part there is nowhere I can go. I can’t afford a hotel and I don’t have a bathroom. Can I use yours? That habanero was too strong for my weak foreigner stomach hahaha. Oh yes, and the wifi password please? I’ll be waiting here until you get news from the other branch. Thank you very much.

There’s this trick I learnt dealing with the Moroccan administration. When a lazy ass does not want to work, you have to make your presence more annoying than their job. The key is to stay polite while becoming increasingly annoying, passive-agressive with a smile. That way, they would do their job just to get rid of you.

I took out my laptop, dragged my extension cord all over the shop, turned the fan my way, and talked loud on the phone. I was acting rude on purpose, pushing them to the edge while being polite. Marco was giggling, but everyone esle was annoyed. It must have been a while since someone pushed them around. Half an hour later, they had found the part.

I ordered two just in case. The parts will arrive on Tuesday… inshallah.


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